Iris reticulata ‘Harmony’

It’s not all about snowdrops and winter aconites in February. I just couldn’t let the month go by without giving these little beauties a mention.  Classic yes, and I do wish I’d planted more of them last autumn; it takes four months from planting to flower, you can’t ask for more than that. And what good value: fifty bulbs for less than the cost of two coffees and croissants! Through January you will be waiting and watching for the spiky narrow spears of foliage, then one day in February the flowers suddenly appear, they seem to arrive from nowhere: intensely...

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Euphorbia stygiana – Azores spurge

This is an interesting euphorbia at any time of the year, but it really comes into its own in the winter, most especially during a cold snap when some of the lower stem leaves turn a brilliant pillar-box red. It’s not a massive blast of colour; it is one of those small delights that catch you unawares as you turn a corner. E stygiana is one of the rarer species, less often seen than E mellifera to which it is often unfairly compared. Its habit is quite different, lax even, open, and much broader than tall. Ours is at least...

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Geranium palmatum AGM – Canary Island Geranium

This handsome evergreen perennial gives me pleasure pretty much all year round; I can be walking down the path on a grey winter’s day, and my eye will be caught by its fresh green foliage. It’s quite unlike any other: apart from its sister plant Geranium maderense which is even more arresting in appearance, but only hardy in very mild and sheltered areas.  So, in early summer the plant will be a mass of purplish pink flowers held high on stout stems above the beautiful, deeply divided leaves. These flowers last well and will give a good display throughout the...

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Prunus x subhirtella ‘Autumnalis’ – Winter flowering cherry

Unlike many of its springtime show-off cousins, this is an understated and elegant small tree, and one of the best for winter interest in the smaller garden. Deciduous and spreading, its leaves show good autumn colour, and they are followed by delicate, semi-double, white flowers tinged with pink, which can appear intermittently throughout late autumn and winter, only being halted by periods of frost. I like to see this winter flowering cherry grown as a specimen, in sun or part shade, and preferably against an evergreen background which best shows off the flowers. If you can enjoy it from the...

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