December is an ideal time to think about planting new plants in your garden. Most of the perennial plants are dormant now but your English Garden should not be without some flowers and scent.
There are some easy to grow shrubs and climbers that will give you flowers throughout December and beyond. Many of them are extremely scented and will do well when planted in containers. Or try planting climbers beside your door so you can enjoy their fragrance whenever you leave or enter the house.
Jasminum nudiflorum or winter flowering jasmine
This is a lovely winter climbing plant which needs to be trained on wires or a trellis, as it is not self-clinging. It has cheerful yellow flowers, which give off a marvellous scent!
The flowers appear on bare, bright green stems throughout the winter and into early spring .
A new variety that has soft creamy/lime bell-like flowers from December through to March. It prefers free draining soil and will do well in a sunny spot or a part shaded one.
Mahonia japonica or sometimes called the Oregon Grape.
It is an evergreen shrub with large spiky, leathery leaves and will flower from the beginning of December to February.
It has a strong scent. The flowers can be deep yellow through to the palest lemon yellow. These are followed by blue-black berries.
Sarcococca confusa or sweet box
Sweet box has a very sweet vanilla fragrance and blooms from December to March.
It is an evergreen shrub that likes a shady spot at the back of the border.
It is easy to grow even in dry shade. Try it and be surprised by the strength of its perfume!
This popular evergreen shrub is very easy to grow and will grow in sun or shade. It flowers in December with large heads of tiny white flowers that open from pink tinged buds. These are followed by blue-black berries.
There are several deciduous winter flowering shrubs that will flower from the end of November through to early march.
Viburnham farreri, Viburnham bodnantense, Viburnham 'Dawn' and 'Deben' are easy to grow. They tend to grow into quite upright shrubs and like a sunny spot with well drained soil.
Helleborus niger or Christmas rose
This lovely winter flowering perennial comes in a range of pinks whites and dark purpley black. It has saucer-shaped flowers and blooms from late December through to March.
Plant them in a sheltered spot away from strong winds. It was thought to have been brought to England by the Romans and used to be planted close to cottage doors because folklore said it prevented any evil spirits from entering the home.
Try Helleborus purpurascens which is a lovely purple flowered hellebore that flowers just before Christmas.
And lastly don't forget winter flowering pansies which will give you flowers throughout the long winter months!
Enjoy your garden!