Winter-Flowering Plants In December Garden – There is no reason why December should be the bleak, flowerless month it is in many gardens. There are a number of winter-flowering plants and here the Christmas rose holds pride of place. The sculptured white blooms of Helleborus niger, sometimes tinted pink, is a masterpiece, with interesting, hand-like leather leaves. The plant may be slow to settle down, but given semi-shade, a rich loamy soil that does not dry out, and a taste of manure in the spring, it will respond.
The green Corsican Hellebore, with clusters of dangling cups, the plum and purple H. atrorubens, and the Lenten rose hybrids are enchanting, when seen nodding together.
Iris unguicularis (syn. /. stylosa) from Algeria is another winter-flowering plant that no garden can afford to be without. Its foliage is untidy, but the lavender flowers that hide themselves in the tufts are beautiful. If picked in bud when they appear, resembling tightly rolled umbrellas, they will give a magic performance when brought into the warmth of a room.
This iris should be planted at the base of a sunny wall where it can stay undisturbed: poor soil discourages flowering.
Another must winter-flowering plant for the winter garden is the climber, Jasminum nudiflorum, providing gay yellow sprays during mild spells from fall to spring. This is a willing grower needing good fare, shelter, and regular tying in.
And finally, please give a thought to the winter heathers. Erica carnea, the mountain heath, is low-growing and excellent ground cover. Varieties such as rose-pink ‘King George’ are smothered in bloom from December to March.
We can recommend E. carnea, ‘Springwood Pink’ and ‘Springwood White’, of slightly trailing habit, as suitable for furnishing a dull bank, while Celia M. Beale is most desirable being one of the earliest and largest of the whites for its size.
Erica darleyensis is another group growing to 2 ft., and is seldom out of flower from November until the spring.
Fortunately, the majority of winter heathers will tolerate a moderately limey soil provided they are given a diet of damp peat and a place in the sun.
Among the winter-flowering shrubs are the winter cherry, with its white and blush-pink blossom, and the torn golden-ribboned witch hazel, and the heavily scented maroon and yellow Chimonanthus fragrans, the beloved Winter Sweet.
Our last suggestion is a small shrub, Corylopsis spicata, with fragrant, primrose flowers, not yet grown as often as it deserves.
Three planting months now lie ahead in which to bring color into the garden for next winter.
Gardeners are often disappointed in the behaviour of their potted spring bulbs. They want to know what has gone wrong. First, did they buy from a reliable source? Was it a bargain offer?
Did they let their bulbs dry out after they had started growing?
Did they bring their bulbs into the light too soon, before the growth was 3 ins. in height, and the bulb head out of the plant’s neck?
Some lawn enthusiasts give their lawn a last run over this month with the blades high.
Whatever your mowing programme, overhaul and oil your machine before storing it in a dry place for the winter. If it requires repairing, get this done before the spring rush.