Winter flowers

Winter flowers

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Shrubs with winter flowering

From the end of December, the days get longer, and even if the climate is still decidedly stiff, something moves in the garden to herald the spring; in many areas, the buds begin to swell, and even in the greyness and frost, some small flowers begin to sprout. To make even the saddest and coldest winter garden pleasant, some shrubs seem to have agreed, to begin to bloom in the period from the end of winter, or February, until the beginning of spring, or March. There are not many shrubs that give us these blooms, and certainly they are not garish flowers like those of the hibiscus, or showy like those of the hybrid clematis; but surely these timid little flowers help us to start thinking about spring. When we see the first flowers in the garden, it is surely time to make plans for the garden, to make sure that the summer does not catch us unprepared. But the shrubs a winter flower they also have another undeniable peculiar characteristic, which makes them even more interesting: many plants a winter flower they are deciduous, and flowers bloom before the plant produces the leaves. The result is a shrub made up of dry and wrinkled twigs, on which it seems that someone has glued fake flowers.

The flowers of tradition: Forsizia, Jasmine and calicantoThe Forsythia

The botanical name is Forsythia x intermedia, indicating that the most widespread variety is a hybrid, between two species originating in Asia, F. suspensa and F. viridissima; it is a small or medium sized shrub, there are some varieties, even with hanging branches, and also prostrate, which generally remain below 2-3 meters in height. It has thin stems, very branched, with dark bark, of chocolate brown color; the leaves are small, light green, oval, rough, they are produced after or during flowering. In the last scraps of winter the forsythia produces innumerable small star-shaped flowers, of golden yellow color, which bloom on the wood of the previous year. The general appearance is very lively and decorative; a fear the forsizie were very used to produce flowered hedges, very beautiful and lively. Forsizia is planted in a sunny area of ​​the garden, or slightly shaded in summer; it does not need a particularly rich soil, and it is very resistant to drought. These shrubs fear the excesses of water in the soil, and stagnations, so they are planted in a very well drained soil, and water only sporadically, during the summer. In fact, forsythia is much more beautiful in bloom than it is in late spring, when it becomes a green shrub, with no particular characteristics. Belonging to the same family as the forsythia, it is the abeliophyllum, a small shrub of Asian origin, with a flowering very similar to that of the forsythia, but with candid white flowers.

Jasmine in winter

There are many species of jasmine that are cultivated as ornamental plants, many of which bloom in spring or even in summer; winter jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) is one of the few species that blooms during the winter months, from January to the beginning of spring; it has thin stems, semi-woody, often arched, green in color, very branched, which bear small trifoliate, deciduous leaves. In late winter, on the bare branches, beautiful star-shaped flowers bloom, of an intense yellow color, usually devoid of perfume. Flowering continues for a few weeks, until the plant has also produced the leaves. Very decorative shrub, a beautiful pruning after flowering encourages a more compact development; if we leave the plant without any pruning and in a dim place it will tend over the years to assume an excessively loose bearing: we then position our jasmine in the sun. They often tend to fall back, becoming almost ground cover. The jasminum nudiflorum is a plant of easy cultivation, rustic, that does not fear the cold and adapts even in heavy soils and not too fertile; loves direct sunlight, light autumn fertilization and summer watering in very hot or dry periods.

The calicanto

In Italy the common names of plants are often not the correct botanical names; it is commonly called calicanto, or Calicantus, a shrub of Asian origin, whose botanical name is chimonanthus praecox. It produces a beautiful large shrub with elongated foliage, erect stems, not very branched, with deciduous leaves, light green, lanceolate in shape, similar to the foliage of peach or willow. In full winter, on the bare branches, small yellow or cream-colored flowers bloom, with the petals placed in a spiral and spotted with red or low in the lower part, slightly perfumed; this flowering also lasts a few weeks, until the plant also begins to produce leaf buds. Chimonanthus is a vigorous and rustic shrub, which withstands temperatures close to -15 ° C, and is so resistant to the cold that flowers often bloom even in adverse conditions, even in the snow in January or February. The cultivation does not offer any kind of difficulty: place the shrub in a sunny place, or even partially shaded, in the common garden soil, lightened with little sand, in order to avoid dangerous stagnation. In fact the name Calicantus was the name attributed to this shrub from Linnaeus, which today is instead attributed to another shrub, the Calicantus floridus, a native of North America; it is a deciduous shrub that produces large, bright red flowers in the summer, very decorative; in nurseries generally when we ask for a calicanto we are directed towards the specimens of chimonanthus, but we also find specimens of calycanthus.
Some recently introduced plants

The Witch Hazel

The genus hamamelis is a genus that has less than a dozen species of deciduous shrubs, originating in North America and Asia, some of which are commonly grown in the garden also in Europe; the habit is very similar to that of chimonanthus: a large shrub, not excessively thick, with large lanceolate leaves. Some species of hamamelis, and in particular those more widespread in Italy, produce a beautiful winter bloom, directly on bare and apparently dry branches; some species instead bloom in autumn. The witch hazel flowers are very special, as they have linear petals, sparsely positioned, giving the impression of a ruffled flower, yellow, pink or purple red, very fragrant. The winter flowering, and the delicate fragrance of the flowers, make them very interesting shrubs for the winter garden.

The edgeworthia

The difficult-to-pronounce name derives from that of an English botanist, who lived in India, named Michael Pakenham Edgeworth; to the genus belong about five species of deciduous shrubs, widespread in nature in Asia, quite common also in Europe, as ornamental plants. They produce a compact vegetation, with a single stem, already branched in the lower part, to form a dense and rounded crown; the leaves are lanceolate, of bright green color, they fall in autumn; the flowering takes place in full winter, until spring: at the apex of each individual branch develop large saucer-like inflorescences, which carry numerous tubular flowers, yellow or cream, very fragrant; the flowers bloom in succession, until they form a sort of floral pompon, very particular, spherical or hemispherical. The appearance of the flowering plant is incredible: among the dry branches showy yellow balls with silvery reflections; even in this case, from a distance one does not immediately understand whether it is nature, or whether someone has enjoyed gluing flowers to a dry shrub. In China, edgeworthia chrysanta is a very common shrub, also because its bark was once used to make paper. In Italy it is a shrub a little more unusual, but easy to cultivate: place it in a sunny place, possibly sheltered from cold winter winds; it does not fear frost, and after it is well established, it tends to resist well to summer drought and heat. We avoid however that the soil around the plant remains dry for long months, and we water regularly, from April to September, when the soil is well dry.

Winter flowers: Choose plants for the garden

Often the choice of plants for the garden is made in one day: one goes to the nursery, one looks at the plants that we like the most, we buy them and put them at home. Typically this operation is done in spring, because the heat and the sun make us want to be outdoors and enjoy the garden; or in autumn, when the period is more favorable for planting the plants. The result is usually that the plants in our garden tend to have a short period of splendor, every year, just in the same period in which we have placed them; and for the remaining months if we are lucky we have some flower or some fruit, but surely a show of lesser entity. This happens because in the nursery typically in every season the most beautiful plants are present especially in the same season; therefore in autumn we will find many cyclamens, in spring many perennials, in summer the annuals, plus the arbor shrubs with summer bloom, and so on. If we want our garden to have a continuous life, throughout the year, it would be advisable first of all to consult some guide, or some site, in order to know the life cycles of each plant; in addition to this, a visit to several nurseries or garden centers, and some information from a plant nursery enthusiast, can help us to have a wide variety of plants in the garden, so as to have beautiful flowers for most of the year (with some precautions it is possible to have in the garden at least one flowering plant, in every season), and then maybe some evergreen leaves, maybe variegated, some berry plants, some deciduous plants; because nature is varied, it does not have a standard behavior, and it is nice to enjoy the pleasures of every season.
  • Winter flowers

    Among the most suitable arboreal botanical species to cheer up your winter garden we can include fr

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