Does your winter landscape make you want to hibernate until spring? If planned properly, a garden in the winter can provide interest and chase away the winter blues. Many woody and herbaceous selections are available that bloom during the colder months in South Carolina, and now is the time to plant these beauties in your garden.
Camellias (Camellia japonica) are the showstoppers of Southern winter gardens. Depending on the cultivar, the bloom times will range from early winter to early spring. The flowers will range in color from white to pink and red, and there are even variegated flower colors. Camellias are best grown in morning sun and afternoon shade. They can range from 7 to 12 feet tall and 5 to 10 feet wide. For more information, see HGIC 1062, Camellia.
Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick (Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’) has interesting, twisted branches with greenish-yellow catkins that make this plant a standout in the winter months. It grows best in full sun to part shade. Give it plenty of space as it grows 8 to 10 feet tall and wide. The branches are used in flower arranging. When choosing a plant, it’s best to select one that is not grafted, but grown on its own root-stock. If allowed, grafted plants will produce straight suckers from below the graft that will require constant removal.
Paperbush (Edgeworthia chrysantha) is a spectacular deciduous shrub to include in the landscape. It prefers to be grown in shade to part shade in humus-rich, moist but well-drained soils. Paperbush will reach 4 to 6 feet in height and width and has the tendency to sucker. Silvery-white flower buds form in late summer and burst into bloom in February to April. The clusters of tubular, orange-yellow flowers are highly fragrant and attract many early pollinating insects. For more information, please see HGIC 1092, Four Fragrant, Winter-Blooming Woodland Shrubs.
Witchhazel (Hamamelis x intermedia) is a hybrid cross between Japanese and Chinese witchhazels. Depending on the cultivar, this deciduous plant will grow between 10 to 20 feet high and wide and grows in full sun to part shade. The straplike, fragrant flowers bloom from mid- to late winter. Witchhazels prefer to be grown in moist, well-drained, organically rich soil. For more information, see HGIC 1091, Witchhazel.
Lenten Rose (Helleborus species) is a group of many different species and hybrids, and these evergreen, herbaceous perennials are clump forming and reach a height of 1 to 1½ feet. Once established, Lenten Rose is quite drought tolerant and best of all, deer resistant. These species and hybrids bloom in early winter with colors ranging from white, pink, rose, to deep purple. These are best grown in part to full shade in rich, organic well-drained soil. For more information, see HGIC 1185, Lenten Rose.