Eight flowering plants that come alive in the cooler months
With COVID restrictions impacting travel, many family’s will be spending more time at home this winter, and with Sydney’s mild climate it is the perfect time to get out in the fresh air and enjoy your own garden.
The true test of an all-season garden is whether it looks good all year round. In winter, many gardeners focus on pruning and preparing the garden to flower, however, let’s explore some plants that actually thrive and bloom in winter.
Joanne has chosen her top eight winter bloomers for Sydney and surrounds:
1. French Lavender (Lavendula Dentata) Originating from the Mediterranean, it may come as a surprise but Lavender actually flowers prolifically throughout our Australian winter. They are best planted in sunny, open positions and are very hardy, yet respond well to a good pruning. The low-growing but mostly upright shrub has soft silver foliage, tall purple flower heads and a beautiful fragrance. Lavender has certainly stood the test of time in Australian gardens and has a striking impact when mass planted.
2. Temple Bells (Pieris Japonica) This slow growing, evergreen shrub is simply spectacular, with its pendulous chains of light pink or white bell-shaped buds that open to white flowers in winter. They suit Sydney’s winter climate and prefer a part shade position protected from the afternoon sun, planted in acidic, well-drained soil.
3. Camellia Sasanqua Hiryu and Yuletide (Camellia Sasanqua ‘Hiryu’ or ‘Yuletide’)
These two camellia shrubs are evergreens that give a rich display of deep foliage and stunning blooms year-round. The Hiryu features deep pink open flowers with contrasting yellow centres that bloom generously on the tall bushy plant that can grow up to 3 metres. The Yuletide variety has magnificent red blooms with golden yellow stamens and are renowned for attracting nectar feeding birds.
4. Rhaphiolepis Oriental Pearl and Snow Maiden (Rhaphiolepis Indica 'Oriental Pearl' or 'Snow Maiden')
These hardy evergreen shrubs have the prettiest little white flowers with prominent pink stamens that flower from autumn through to spring. The Oriental Pearl variety is a dwarf form growing up to 0.8 metres high by 1 metre wide. It prefers full sun but is hardy and adaptable to most soils. This is an excellent choice for pots, low hedges or around pools as it is resistant to salt spray. The Snow Maiden variety can have a subtle red flush of new growth and grows to approximately 1 metre in height by 0.5 metres wide. It is extremely low maintenance with minimal watering required.
5. Winter Rose or Lenten Rose (Helleborus Orientalis)
This perennial shrub features cupped flowers up to 7 centimetres in diameter, in a variety of colours from white to pinks and deep magenta. They resemble a rose but are more papery in texture and look beautiful both in the garden or as cut flowers in a vase. The shrub suits an environment that is semi-shaded and gets protection from the afternoon sun. Do be careful, especially if you have children or inquisitive pets; as pretty as they are, they are also poisonous!
6. Slipper Orchids (Paphiopedilum)
Bring some colour in from the garden and delight visitors in the entry to your home with a potted Slipper Orchid. These unique flowers have a ‘pouch’ which is how they got their name and grow on a single stem up to 30 centimetres high. The flowers remain on the plant for around six weeks or more and are a stunning conversation-starter. They thrive with constant moisture and bright, filtered light and regular fertilising will encourage active growth. There are more than 80 different varieties of Slipper Orchids, so they come in a huge range of colours!
7. Winter Cheer (Kniphofia)
When you need a colourful, hardy and water wise plant, the Kniphofia is an absolute winner. It has show-stopping vivid bottle-brush shaped flowers on thick, grass-like foliage and is sometimes referred to as a ‘Torch Lily’ due to its bright flower spikes. The hardy perennial requires low water and little maintenance, is drought, frost and wind tolerant and prefers a full sun to part shade position in your garden.
8. Narcissus (Narcissus Hybrid)
Bulbs are absolutely bullet proof for Sydney and surrounds. They prefer full sun or part shade and well-drained soil but are hardy and drought-tolerant once established. This family of bulbous perennials includes the well-known Daffodil and also Joanne’s favourite, the Paperwhite Jonquils. Paperwhite Jonquils have elegant white star-shaped petals and cupped fragrant flowers that when mass planted are so beautiful. Plant these bulbs 10 centimetres deep in the ground and at least 10 centimetres apart, water well and they will flower 6-8 weeks after planting.
Just because winter is here, doesn’t mean your garden needs to hibernate. These winter bloomers could be a lively addition to your garden and provide a beautiful, colourful focal point.