Top Ten December Blooms.

I can’t think of anything more depressing than putting the garden to bed for the winter and having nothing to look at until the spring. We are lucky in the UK to have a climate which enables us to have beauties to enjoy all year round. The winter garden can be a special delight full of rare treasures. I love the tracery of bare black branches against a violet sky. Evergreens come into their own and winter flowers are a not big and showy but delicate and often scented. And of course, as it is the 23rd of the month, it is the flowers we are looking at today. It is time to choose my Top Ten and as it is the darkest month of the year they are a bit thin on the ground. But come with me and let’s see what we can find.

We associate daffodils with spring but I have a precious little narcissus which often blooms on Christmas Day. It is Narcissus minor ‘Cedric Morris’ and I have told the story of it before. You can see it again here. It is quite difficult to get hold of and always very expensive. But to have a perfect little daffodil in bloom for Christmas is a very special treat. It is showing yellow and nearly open and with a bit of luck it might just make it by Wednesday.

Narcissus minor ‘Cedric Morris’

This is one I prepared earlier; I cheated by bringing it on in the greenhouse, but you can see what a little darling it is.

Narcissus minor ‘Cedric Morris’

My December snowdrops are in bloom. I thought I had lost little Galanthus ‘Santa Claus’ but here it is blooming bravely.

Galanthus ‘Santa Claus’

Galanthus ‘Barnes’ usually blooms in November and I thought it had gone AWOL this year but here it is blooming a bit later but looking very well alongside an early primrose.

Galanthus ‘Barnes’

I have had Galanthus  plicatus ‘Three Ships’ for a while and it has clumped up nicely.

Galanthus ‘Three Ships’

To go with the snowdrops I have the first of my Cyclamen coum in bloom, soon there will be plenty more of these dear little pink helicopters all round the winter garden. I will probably be showing more next month. They have such pretty marbled leaves too.

Cyclamen coum

It is fun to have a clematis in bloom each month of the year and the one which reliably blooms in December is Clematis cirrhosa  ‘Freckles’. It looks far too delicate to bloom in the middle of winter. My only complaint about this lovely clematis is that it hangs its heads a little so it doesn’t make as much immediate impact as it should.

Clematis cirrhosa ‘Freckles’

Blossom in December is a special treat. The small white blooms of the tree Prunus x subhirtella ‘Autumnalis’ are delicate and charming. They  bloom on bare branches and they start much earlier than those on the pink form.

Prunus x subhirtella ‘Autumnalis’

Viburnum is a large family of attractive shrubs.  The one most often found in winter gardens is the ubiquitous Viburnum tinus. It is useful and blooms throughout the winter no matter what the weather throws at it. Even though I pick it for winter vases I really can’t love it. I have said before that when it gets wet the foliage of this shrub smells disgusting, like wet dog or worse.

Viburnum tinus

Viburnum farreri starts blooming in November is is looking beautiful now. Reginald Farrer found it growing wild in Shi-hoi in the Kansu area of China.He sent home plenty of seed and would have sent more but he quarreled with his Highness Yang Tusa, Prince of Joni who had promised to save him seed. Apparently this plant produces edible fruit in China and to spite him the Prince ate up all the fruit and threw away the seed. I love this story as I enjoy reading about Farrer’s larger- than- life personality which comes out so well in his books. He was gloriously eccentric and seems to have quarreled with many people, I would love to know what he did to upset the Prince.

Viburnum farreri

Viburnum farreri

A beautiful descendant of Viburnum farreri is Viburnum  x bodnantense raised by Lord Aberconway at Bodnant. It has much darker and larger clusters of flowers but I think the habit is a bit rigid. I like the more rambling Viburnum farreri because it looks more natural.

Viburnum x bodnantense ‘Dawn’

I have Christmas rose, Helleborus niger out in the garden but I think they are better in pots really. The flowers always seemed to get spoilt in the ground.

Helleborus niger

Helleborus niger growing in a pot.

I have a lovely apple green Corsican hellebore, Helleborous argutifolius out in the urn by my door.

Helleborus argutifolius

I always look forward to my Witch Hazels coming into bloom. This year the first one into flower is the lovely Hamamelis  x intermedia ‘Diane’. I love those red spidery flowers.

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’

I hope it’s not cheating to pop into the greenhouse for my next bloom. I daren’t risk it outside. It is Grevillea rosmarinifolia. I like its little pink claws and of course anything in bloom in December is welcome. I think this needs an acid soil and it may be hardy in Devon and Cornwall but I have never seen it outside round here.

Grevillea rosamarifolia

And now for a rose. I do try to choose seasonal flowers for my top ten blooms and roses are certainly not seasonal now although there are always a few hanging on. But heavens, we must take what blooms we can find in December. I have written before how Reginald Farrer despised winter roses, calling them ‘withered moths‘. But I have a rose in bloom which doesn’t look anything like a withered moth. You may not like it, many people don’t; it is a strange looking rose but I grow it because I like it in vases. It is the green rose, Rosa viridiflora and this one is destined for my Christmas vase.

Rosa viridiflora

And talking about Christmas I hope you will all have a wonderful one, full of love and joy and beautiful December flowers.  If you have any special blooms, please share them.

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34 Responses to Top Ten December Blooms.

  1. Yes, you are very fortunate. We generally don’t have anything blooming here in my part of the Midwestern U.S. from the first frost in mid-October until sometime in March. There are benefits (rest from the garden, time to focus on other things, a clean slate, etc.), but I think I would trade it for a milder climate, at least at this time of year. That last rose is so unique, and perfect for a Christmas vase. Happy Holidays!

    • Chloris says:

      But maybe you get lovely foliage and interesting bark? I can usually get in the garden for most of the year but this year it has been so wet that everything is a bog. Happy Christmas Beth.

  2. Heyjude says:

    What a lovely winter garden you have. Freckles is fab as is the Grevillea. Do all Viburnum have smelly foliage or just tinus? And I actually like the green rose! Happy December holidays and a floriferous new year 💚

    • Chloris says:

      It’s just the foliage of Viburnum tinus when it is wet. There used to be one just outside my front door which smelt vile whenever it had been raining. Happy Christmas Jude.

  3. Great pictures – I love the hamamelis, a perfect shade of pink!

  4. You have so many blooms. I also grow the green rose and it is one of my best.

    • Chloris says:

      Nice to find another fan of Rosa viridiflora. I can understand why people don’t like it because it is not sumptuous and fragrant but it has a charm of its own.

  5. Kris P says:

    I think you’ve got more variety in blooming plants than I do at the moment. The only one we share is Grevillea rosmarinifolia – I discovered one just starting to bloom only yesterday. Most of my other winter-blooming Grevilleas have buds but no blooms as yet, although I can depend on the large-flowered varieties year-round. I always find it odd that your hellebores bloom so much earlier than mine, which don’t generally show up until early spring but I guess that’s probably attributable to the differences between species. We got a good soaking overnight with more rain on the way for Christmas Day (a good thing!) and I’m looking forward to more blooms within the next month or so.

    Merry Christmas!

    • Chloris says:

      I always admire your large flowered grevilleas and I wish I could grow them. My oriental hellebores are not blooming yet but I have lots of buds. I know you always welcome rain I wish I could send you some of ours. We have had two months of torrential rain and there is flooding in many areas. Happy Christmas Kris.

  6. Eliza Waters says:

    You always have something of interest blooming in your garden. ‘Spring’ bulbs in December, what a treat. As one of the ‘forlorn’ snowbound gardeners, I relish seeing them. Happy Christmas, Liz!

    • Chloris says:

      I do try and have year round colour and I know how lucky we are here to have a temperate climate so that there is always something to enjoy. Winter flowers are very special. Happy Christmas Eliza.

  7. pbmgarden says:

    What a wonderful post. Love the photo of ‘Cedric Morris’ against the purple berries. It’s a happy little flower. Amazed you have clematis year-round. I’ve lost so many through the years. Will have to redouble my efforts!

  8. Cathy says:

    Always a joy to see your blooms Chloris, especially these precious winter ones, both old favourites and those not met before. I like the look of V farreri and will seek one out in due course. I will be a little late with my own top blooms, some of which need to slow down a bit – I wonder if I will regret arranging a Feb opening! Best wishes to you and the Pianist and any visiting family

  9. You never let us down! A winter wonderland. Thanks for reminding me of the corsican hellebore, it is a true beauty. And thanks for introducing me to all your wonderfully named early snowdrops. Have a splendid Christmas and New Year. And I wish you and your family love and happiness for 2020. xxx

  10. What treasures for December! Your garden is like the best sort of catalogue, with so many examples to choose from for timing and form. I am going to search out Cedric Morris in particular. I am sure I had a pot a few years ago, but I seem to have neglected it and lost them. Thanks for these ideas. Best wishes to you and yours for Christmas.

    • Chloris says:

      N. Cedric Morris is an absolute gem. A bit susceptible to narcissus fly though. You get nice little clumps and then it can disappear. You can get it from Beth Chatto but it is in short supply. You have to order it in advance. Happy Christmas Allison.

  11. Anna says:

    My’ Cedric Morris’ planted in 2018 have no flowers this year. I hope that they are just having a year off. Viburnum tinus fell victim to the dreaded beetle but I remember the aroma all too well. Chloris, wishing you and the Pianist a Merry Christmas and a most happy and peaceful New Year! xxx

  12. Brian Skeys says:

    When I first saw Grevillea rosmarinifolia. in Madeira, I thought it was a red flowering rosemary. Thankfully it had a label. Seasons greetings to you and your family Chloris.

  13. Wonderful, the variety of Galanthus continues to amaze me and the Viburnums, I think they grow everywhere – the one common here is V. suspensum, locals refer to it as ‘dog pee bushes’ I have none of this. I love that Clematis, you’ve made me wonder if any Clematis will grow here. Hmmm. Happy Christmas and please share your vase with the Green Rose.

  14. snowbird says:

    Goodness, what delightful blooms in December! There’s very little flowering in my garden, so wonderful to visit yours. All the very best to you and yours Chloris, wishing you all a wonderful

  15. Chloris says:

    Thank you Dina. Have a wonderful Christmas too. How wonderful to enjoy it with your precious little one this year.

  16. A sweet collection of dainty December blooms. Very glad to know the story of your Christmas Narcissus, though I doubt it would bloom in December in our garden. Merry Christmas, Chloris.

  17. tonytomeo says:

    When I first saw the ‘Three Ships’ snowdrops, I thought they looked like Leucojum. Oh well, Snowdrops are so popular everywhere else. I grow none. Leucojum grew from feral seed here a few years ago, and has spread into a small colony. It is all I have to brag about that sort of looks like snowdrops. I will not plant either, since the last thing I need is more bloom. However, I can’t help but wonder what I am missing out on.

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