Winter shrubs masterclass: best expert content

Red leaves of Hamamelis × intermedia 'Böhlje's Feuerzauber' from T&M

Winter shrubs like Hamamelis flower happily in cold temperatures
Image: Hamamelis × intermedia ‘Böhlje’s Feuerzauber’ from Thompson & Morgan

Is your garden short of winter colour? Take inspiration from these expert independent gardeners and find out how to enjoy heady floral scent, garlands of berries, colourful stems and interesting foliage throughout the coldest and darkest months of the year. 

If you’re planning a new scheme with wildlife in mind, browse our online collection of shrubs with winter berries. Our winter flowering shrubs brighten the gloomiest of days, and for a powerful, structural statement, take a look at our fiery range of cornus shrubs.

Thompson & Morgan blog

Yellow flowers of Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’ from T&M

Mahonia flowers bring sunshine yellow to the winter garden
Image: Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’ from Thompson & Morgan

There’s nothing like a splash of bright yellow to cheer up a wintry day,” say the horticultural experts at Thompson & Morgan’s blog. Their top winter shrubs for bright yellow flowers include Coronilla valentina subsp. glauca ‘Citrina’, Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Arnold Promise’ and Mahonia x media. Read the full article to find out which other flowers, climbers, grasses and shrubs made their shortlist.

Richard Schmidt – @greengenus

Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ photographed with mist

Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ stems are a vibrant red
Image: @sarahpajwani at St Timotee

Cornus shrubs and Salix, depending on the variety chosen, provide bark in tones from bright yellow, through all manner of oranges, to deep red,” says top garden designer Richard Schmidt over at @greengenus. Plant cornus (dogwood) alongside darker evergreens for a striking contrast that really shows them off. Check out his Instagram page for stunning photos and clever garden design advice.

Lee – Garden Ninja

Gardener in front of winter shrub with caption underneath reading 'Pruning Winter Cornus takes place at the end of March when new growth is visible.'

Lee keeps his cornus shrubs looking their best with careful pruning
Image: Garden Ninja

To make sure you get fiery stems each winter, you’ll need to give your cornus plants a hard prune in March, explains Lee over at Garden Ninja. Just make sure you leave the whippy young growth alone for three years after planting to allow it to establish itself, he says. Check out Lee’s fantastic pruning guide to see where you need to cut.

John & Melanie – John Horsey Horticulture

Propagating cornus stems

Propagate your cornus during summer for more colourful stems come winter
Image: John Horsey Horticulture

Want to make new fiery cornus plants for free? Try John Horsey’s layering technique. He propagates his Cornus alba ‘Kesselringii’ by carefully scraping a little bark away from a healthy stem and pressing it into the ground to grow new roots of its own. See the full process in John’s tutorial at his YouTube channel John Horsey Horticulture. It’s a fun project if you don’t mind waiting a few extra years for your plants to reach a reasonable size. For convenience, John has used Cornus as a subject for layering but it is also very suitable for hardwood cuttings.

Alexandra – The Middle-Sized Garden

Berries and red leaves of Viburnum opulus

Enjoy berries and blushing leaf colour from Viburnum opulus in winter
Image: The Middle-Sized Garden

Small garden? You can still grow winter shrubs, says Alexandra over at The Middle-Sized Garden. Choose specially bred varieties that are smaller at maturity than their larger counterparts, like Viburnum opulus ‘Compactum’. Check out Alexandra’s article to see which six winter shrubs head gardener Tom Coward of Gravetye Manor recommends for late season interest.


Frost covered leaves of winter shrubs

Winter shrubs look even better with a delicate coating of frost
Image: @mrsblake2020

Skimmia japonica shrubs do better in gardens with acidic soil, says Instagrammer @mrsblake2020. Her male skimmia bears attractive flower buds throughout the colder months, and looks especially fabulous with a light dusting of frost! Head to her full post to learn more fascinating facts about this lovely addition to any winter garden.

Stephanie Donaldson – The Enduring Gardener

White blooms of Sarcococca hookeriana var. digyna from Thompson & Morgan

The delicate blooms of Christmas box are followed by shiny black berries
Image: Sarcococca hookeriana var. digyna from Thompson & Morgan

Have you got a tricky area of deep shade in your garden? Go for the flowering shrub Sarcococca hookeriana var. digyna, says Stephanie Donaldson over at The Enduring Gardener. “If you have a shady spot near a doorway or path, it will more than repay you with its glorious winter fragrance,” she says. Check out Stephanie’s top ten list of shrubs and trees for winter fragrance to give your winter garden an extra sensory dimension.

Bel Grierson

Sarcococca hookeriana 'Winter Gem' in container

Plant your shrubs like Sarcococca hookeriana ‘Winter Gem’ in containers to move them around the garden
Copyright: Plantipp / Visions BV, Netherlands

Sarcococca is also the scent ‘must-have’ for garden designer Bel Grierson. “I like to grow this in containers so I can move the plants nearer to the house in winter to benefit from the heady fragrance,” she says. Read this expert plantswoman’s full article about evergreen shrubs for winter interest to find a list of the other specimens she recommends for “colour, texture, flowers and a fresh look during the grey winter months”.


Yellow lemon peel petals of Hamamelis

The flower petals of Hamamelis are reminiscent of fresh lemon peel
Image: @dawns_gardening

A winter scent essential in Dawn’s enviable Leicestershire garden is Hamamelis or witch hazel. “When we get a frosty morning I’ll cup my hands around the spidery flowers and breathe in the fragrance,” she says. Another winter-flowering shrub she loves is honeysuckle – check out her gorgeous image of Lonicera purpusii ‘Winter Beauty’. “It has sweet fragrant small creamy white flowers on bare stems,” she explains. Dawn’s garden is carefully planted to have plenty of winter interest – follow her over at @dawns_gardening to see more.


Red berries of winter flowering shrubs being displayed by gardener

Winter berries make the garden look extra festive in time for Christmas
Image: @getplantinghort

Plant your garden for Christmas using shrubs that have attractive berries,” says BBC Beechgrove presenter Kirsty Wilson. She recommends Cotoneaster shrubs for their festive bright red berries and dark glossy leaves. The berries provide a welcome food source for winter wildlife too! Scroll through Kirsty’s Instagram page over at @getplantinghort to find lots more top gardening tips.

Carol Bartlett – The Sunday Gardener

White tipped leaves of Holly ‘Argentea Marginata'

Holly ‘Argentea Marginata’ has glossy variegated leaves
Image: Holly ‘Argentea Marginata’ from Thompson & Morgan

Holly is a fantastic winter option, and not just for Christmas, says Carol Bartlett at The Sunday Gardener. “An evergreen, slow growing shrub, with bright variegated leaves and colourful berries”, holly is a great choice for difficult areas. It’s also highly versatile, making an interesting addition to borders, an elegant standard or a wind-resistant hedge. Just make sure your female shrub has a male pollination partner to get plenty of berries, she advises. Read her full article on growing hollies for top tips and growing advice.

We hope our collection of winter shrubs content has given you plenty of food for thought. You’ll find even more inspiration at our winter flowers hub page. Don’t hesitate to get in touch or share your own favourite winter shrubs – tag us on social media using #YourTMGarden.

Published at Wed, 31 Aug 2022 09:26:41 -0400

Leave a Reply