Top Ten December Blooms.

Here we are at the Winter Solstice and from now on the afternoons will slowly start to get longer and I suppose the winter will start to bite in the next week or two. But never mind there are some lovely blooms to help us through the winter and many of them are deliciously fragrant.   Many viburnums are fragrant but Viburnum tinus is not amongst them. I am starting with my least favourite December bloom, in fact I have dug at least four of them up as when they are not in bloom they are quite offensive, with dull unattractive foliage which smells revolting when it is wet. So I can’t say it is a plant that I like . But as it blooms bravely right through the winter and is useful for winter flower arrangements I will give it a mention. I have never bought one because every garden I have had always seemed to be full of them. I used to think that ‘Eve Price’ was the best choice because it is compact and has lovely pink buds. I have changed my mind now though because I recently saw one that is new to me called ‘Lisarose’ and I was impressed by its deep carmine buds and pink flowers. I might even have to buy one for my winter garden. The one I saw was used as a clipped hedge and actually looked rather nice. I wouldn’t like to walk past it when it has been raining though.

Viburnum tinus

All the winter flowering viburnums make large, rather untidy, suckering bushes so you can always give bits away. I have the pink Viburnum x bodantense ”Dawn’.

Viburnum x bodantense ‘Dawn’

Viburnum x bodantense ‘Deben’ is white tinged with pink and it starts blooming in late autumn. Both these two are deliciously fragrant so they are nice for picking.

Viburnum x bodantense ‘Dawn’

One of my favourite winter flowering shrubs has started blooming. It is Chimonanthus praecox. I love its little yellow claws with their maroon centres and they smell absolutely gorgeous. This shrub likes a nice, warm, sunny spot and many people don’t grow it because it is rather undistinguished in the summer. I get round this by growing a viticella clematis up it. A little spray of it  will make a whole room smell gorgeous.

Chimonanthus praecox

Winter jasmine, Jasminum nudiflorum makes an untidy tangle and has to be thinned after flowering. It is welcome  because of its abundance of starry, yellow flowers in the middle of winter and it is useful for flower arrangements. Funny to have a jasmine with no fragrance though. When it was introduced from China in 1845 it was believed to be tender and was grown in greenhouses. It is of course bone -hardy and you are never without it because wherever it touches the soil it roots.

Jasminum nudiflorum

The pink form of the winter flowering cherry with a big name is not yet in bloom. It is Prunus x subhirtella ‘Autumnalis Rosea’. But in my garden the white form, Prunus x subhirtella ‘Autumnalis’ starts blooming in December. The flowers are so delicate and indeed if we have a hard frost it will give up flowering for a while but it starts again as soon as the extreme weather stops.

Prunus x subhirtella ‘Autumnalis’

Winter flowering honeysuckle is always welcome because it smells so delicious it is great for picking. It does make rather a large bush but you can prune it by cutting a third of the flowering shoots out in March. If you do it any later you will lose next year’s blooms. The one I grow is Lonicera x purpusii ‘Winter Beauty’.

Lonicera x purpusii ‘Winter Beauty

I have a lovely winter flowering clematis which it is full of bloom right now. It is Clematis cirrhosa  ”Wisley Cream’. It sounds more like a liver disease than a delicate flower.

Clematis cirrhosa ‘Wisley Cream’

 

Clematis cirrhosa ‘Wisley Cream’

In my front garden I have a lovely clump of the Algerian Iris unguicularis. The name is rather a mouthful, I preferred it when it was called Iris stylosa. It is enjoying its position in front of the wall where it can get baked in the sun. The ones in the winter garden are not yet in bloom. I always give it a good soaking and some bonemeal in August and September. The flowers can be picked in bud just before they unfurl.

Iris unguicularis

The first of the dear little Cyclamen coum has opened and soon there will be carpets of them growing with snowdrops and yellow winter aconites, looking like bacon and eggs.

Cyclamen coum

My Christmas snowdrop is called appropriately enough ‘Galanthus plicatus ‘Three Ships’. This is a reliable snowdrop which soon makes a nice little clump so there are always one or two to pick for  a Christmas posy.

Galantthus plicatus ‘Three Ships’

Hellebores bring delight to the winter garden from now until April. I have lots in bud but these two are properly open very early this year. They are both real beauties. The first, ‘Sheryl’s Shine’ has lovely marbled leaves.

Helleborus ‘Cheryl’s Shine’

The second is ‘Phoebe’ and she is already wearing her party dress ready for Christmas Day.

Helleborus ‘Phoebe’

Do you have any December blooms to share? It doesn’t have to be ten, even one would be lovely. It is great to get ideas for this time of the year when blooms have become scarce.

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39 Responses to Top Ten December Blooms.

  1. Tina says:

    Is it unusual for your iris to bloom this time of year? You have some beautiful blooms

  2. susurrus says:

    Happy Solstice! We’re celebrating with a bonfire and some egg nog. I was thinking the same as Tina, but about the hellebores. Ours are just leaves at the moment, although today we spotted a bud.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you, what fun to celebrate Solstice. My hellebores are very early this year although these are the only ones out apart from the Christmas rose, Helleborus niger which I forget to mention.

  3. I’m more than a tad envious of your beautiful December blossoms! We’ve had a warm spell this week and I’ve been searching to see if any of my Galanthus have showed up yet (they often do in early winter) but no joy. It’ll be about three more months before serous flower power over here!

  4. Kris P says:

    With the exception of my large-flowered Grevilleas, you may have more in blooms right now that I do. I bought 3 Viburnum tinus for a friend decades ago when she bought her house. They’re now large plants (despite our drought and her miserly approach to irrigation) and I’ve often thought of planting the shrub here but your description of their nasty odor when wet is a bit off-putting. (Then again, it’s not often all that wet here!) I always admire Iris unguicularis when I see it in blog posts but, though it should grow here, I’ve yet to find a local source for the plants. As to the hellebores, why do you think mine flower so much later than yours? The reverse is usually true but hellebores seem to be the exception to that rule. ‘Phoebe’ is my most reliable hellebore when it comes to blooms but she doesn’t usually show up until spring.

    • Chloris says:

      But judging from your vases it seems you are never without an abundance of blooms. There are much nicer viburnums than tinus that have lovely fragrant blooms. A pity you can’t find Iris unguicularis it would do well with all your sun. Funny about the hellebores blooming earlier here. These two are very early this year.

  5. I like how you word the impending shift…that winter will soon begin to “bite.” That does tend to happen at some point, doesn’t it? We’ve had a much colder than normal November, followed by a much warmer than normal December. The plants must be very confused. Still, absolutely nothing blooms here from late October through at least March. I can’t imagine having things blooming outside at this time of year. Clematis, Cyclamen, Irises? Oh my! 🙂

    • Chloris says:

      It doesn’t usually get very cold here until after Christmas, or early January. I am very fond of winter blooming flowers and I have dedicated a part of my garden to coloured stems, foliage and flowers for winter.

  6. Annette says:

    A pleasure to see your selection especially as we have a lot of plants in common. Iris ung. flowered in late summer, maybe it got wiser after frost killed the flowers last winter. Love the viburnums too and whereas tinus is starting to flower it’ll be a while yet for bodnantense. You know what I noticed again this year: after the terribly hot and dry summer my clematis cirrhosa again lost all the leaves and I thought this is it…only for them to regrow rather splendidly a while later. Needless to say it’s flowering beautifully now :). I know it’s supposed to be evergreen and wonder if other people experience the same? In any case it’s certainly not a dull time of year in your garden. Enjoy it!

    • Chloris says:

      I know you enjoy winter flowers as much as I do Annette. My Clematis cirrhosa didn’t look too good in the summer either, but it looks great now.
      A very happy Christmas to you and Monsieur. x

  7. Heyjude says:

    Happy Solstice! Your winter flowering blooms are a welcome sight. My garden is pretty much reduced to a brown mush as it seems to have been raining continually since November. I am sooo looking forward to the extra light each day, and hopefully some dry weather. I want some colourful Hellebores as I only have the white ones, and my winter jasmine has not flowered once since moving to Cornwall! Time to replace it I think.

  8. Chloris says:

    Happy Solstice. Oh dear, constant rain is depressing. We have had some lovely bright days here but plenty of rain too. If you send me your address I will send you some pink hellebore seedlings after Christmas.

  9. What a fantastic selection. I love Chimonanthus praecox, but I don’t actually have any (so I must look to rectify that) and I certainly I like the colours on H. ‘Cheryl’s Shine’. I’ve just had a delivery of 4 Harvington cultivars from Twelve Nuns in an attempt to diversify my hellebore collection. Nothing in flower yet though.

  10. Chloris says:

    Chimonanthus is divine, it takes a while to settle down and flower. Years ago I grew one from seed, I had to wait 7 years for the flowers. I’ve just been looking at those gorgeous Harvington hellebores. I think I need a few more. What gorgeous colours.

  11. Lovely and a lot of pink. Amazing the variety of Viburnums, I am not familiar with yours, we have them here and they are similarly what I refer to as “drugstore plants” planted in parking lots around drugstores. Yours have much better flowers and fragrance to boot.
    Happy Holidays!

  12. Cathy says:

    I took my Freckles from the pergola on the paved area where it overdominated it and shoved it at the back of the woodland edge border – if it doesn’t pull through I will definitely have to buy another as the cirrhosas are wonderful to see in winter. I have a C armandii for tge first time and it is in bud! Your H Cheryl’s Shine is an absolute beauty and one I will look out for. Like you, I am trying to introduce as much winter interest as I can – such a joy to find all these beauties and thanks for sharing yours. My post was scheduled in advance but I shall add a proper link in due course

    • Chloris says:

      I remember you removing you Freckles, I hope it will survive it is a lovely plant. These cirrhosa clematis look far too fragile to survive cold winter days. They are a real bonus. My ‘armandii’ usually flowers in March. I agree winter goes on far too long, it is important to have as much winter interest as possible, we can’t spend all winter just counting our snowdrops. Thank you for sharing your December beauties too.
      Expect a little surprise in the post after Christmas.

  13. smallsunnygarden says:

    A beautiful selection for December. I get a bit frustrated with the non-fragrant species of plants I associate so strongly with scent, such as jasmine. It’s not fair to them really, is it?! Thanks for the winter garden inspiration!

    • Chloris says:

      Winter jasmine is so common and because we see it everywhere we take it for granted but it is lovely to have such a mass of yellow in the middle of winter.

  14. krcc says:

    Cheryl’ Shine looks magical. Merry Christmas!

  15. Fabulous, and lots of new ones to learn (and then possibly forget). I love Wisley Cream and the hellebores are a joy. Shame no one invented smellyvision in 2018, perhaps in 2019. Happy Christmas to you, I’ve loved sharing your wonderful garden again this year xxx

  16. tonytomeo says:

    Viburnum tinus is naturalized in parts of our landscapes, but is not very pretty in the more exposed spots. It blooms, but is not impressive. I think it looks better in the sheltered and more forested spots, but it does not naturalize so much there. Various hellibores are popular here, but they do not like the climate much either. I grew them back in the 1990s. Landscapers took whatever we could grow, no matter how badly they looked. They also seem happier in forested spots, although they are not as happy as they are in other regions. Our winter season is very brief, which I suppose is a good thing, since there are not many winter blooming flowers that do well here. Perhaps they might if we had more of a winter for them.

    • Chloris says:

      Viburnum tinus grows wild in the south of France but it is a weedy looking thing in the wild. The cultivated forms are more compact. Hellebores are the best thing about winter here. They bloom from now until April.

      • tonytomeo says:

        Ours might be blooming now, but I do not see much of them. They just lay down, with their faces to the ground. They get mulched when they finish.

  17. I would definitely grow the Chimomanthus if it were hardy here. I love fragrant plants.

  18. snowbird says:

    It’s just lovely seeing so many of your winter blooms, I do love your winter Iris and Hellebores. So lovely seeing those early snowdrops. I noticed one of my Hellebores flowering today. xxx

  19. bittster says:

    What a beautiful selection to get us through the shortest days of the year. I just wish we didn’t have to still deal with the cold!
    Of course I love the snowdrop. I was able to add ‘Three Ships’ last year and was quite amazed to see it coming back this year rather than sailing off to less hostile coasts. Maybe the end of January will see it in bloom, if we get a warm spell…

  20. You have inspired me to work harder at adding winter bloomers into the garden. I could definitely do with one of these gorgeous clematises, for a start, as well as some earlier snowdrops. What a joy it must be to have so much in flower at this time of year.

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