Monty Don explains how to encourage growth of wildflowers
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Contrary to popular belief, winter is a great time to start adding new plants into the garden to add a pop of colour into dull spaces. To help gardeners pick, Rowan Cripps, paving specialist and founding director of Infinite Paving has shared five winter-flowering plants. The expert recommended winter aconite, Christmas rose and Snowdrops.
1. Winter aconite
This plant flowers from January to February, making is a great plant to introduce into the garden now. It can be recognised by its cup-shaped bright yellow flowers which are around 3cm in width.
According to the gardening expert this plant grows well in partial shade and needs moist but well-drained soil in order to thrive.
They are generally pest-free and low maintenance, ideal for beginner gardeners. The expert explained: “Bearing golden yellow and white flowers with a characteristic green ruff, these beautiful perennials are the perfect addition to any drab garden.
“They’re not just good-looking – the plants frequently come up through the snow, are capable of enduring small amounts of frost and need minimal care when planted correctly.”
2. Christmas rose
Rowan said: “Similarly to the Autumnalis Rosea, the Christmas Rose, also known as Helleborus Niger is one of the earliest plants to flower.
“With dark green leaves and bowl-shaped flowers that appear pure white or flushed with pink, these delicate plants flourish when planted in partially shaded borders.
“These plants will also attract winter-active bumblebees, bringing life to your garden in more than one way.”
The more this plant is shaded, the fewer flowers it will produce, this is because it enjoys a sunny spot where it will thrive and it should flower between the months of November and March.
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Snowdrops are one of the most popular winter-flowering plants thanks to their gorgeous petals and early appearance. They are commonly grown as ornamental plants in parks and gardens around the world.
They will have stunning bright white flowers between the months of January and March and must be placed in moist but well-drained soil and positioned in partial shade.
The expert noted: “Similar to the Winter-Flowering cherry, these radiant yet hardy plants are a sight for sore eyes in the middle of winter, growing when little else will.
“Just like the Christmas rose, winter-active bumblebees love these plants and Mahonias, meaning you have all the plants required for some very happy bees.”
4. Autumnalis rosea (Winter-flowering cherry)
The expert continued: “As winter-flowering cherry trees are one of the first trees to flower, they are often the first sign of life following the depths of winter.
“The pale, off-white flowers complement any snow and are a great sight for an (albeit rare) crisp January sky.
“Bred specifically to flower in the cold months, these small trees provide colour year-round and are a great addition to any garden.”
Winter-flowering cherry grow well in moderately fertile soil, while in full sun, according to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). They are not pest-free either, and may be attacked by aphids, caterpillars and bullfinches.
Other than pests, they are generally low maintenance as long as they are positioned in a sheltered frost-free space.
The expert explained: “While the name Mahonia references an incredible 70 species of shrubs and trees, we recommend the mahonia ‘winter sun’ in particular.
“A long flowering variety, the plant blooms before offering purple flowers that attract an array of garden birds.
“With its easy-to-grow nature beyond the need for the odd prune, these amenable plants will not only liven up your garden in the winter but attract wildlife year round.”
Mahonias do require acidic, moist and well-drained soil in shade, partial sun or full sun, making them quite versatile.
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