Mind the Gap

In the midst of the festive season when the days of winter are darkest, thoughts of the garden remain close to my mind as I’m looking forward to the next growing season, the flowering display and some daylight. When it comes to flowering, right now, we have a gap.

In the previous garden – despite how small it was – we just about managed to have something in flower every day of the year. Winter was the most difficult but Bergenia, snowdrops, winter flowering honeysuckle, Sarcococca and Osmanthus carried us over. In the current garden we don’t have any of these plants and several weeks ago, after the first hard frosts hit, we were all out of flowers and it has been that way since.

Given the garden is still a work in progress and only a few years old I can be forgiven for having this winter gap in the annual flowering as there are many more plants yet to “move in”. We have some young Sarcococca plants in the greenhouse, they were grown from seed and will soon flower and I can already see the leaves of the Crocus appearing. The Camellias will then formally start the show in mid-March with their incredible floral display, weather permitting. We don’t have any daffodils…yet.

Christmas Box – with flowers due very soon

One plant I have forgotten about is the Chimonanthus Praecox or the Wintersweet. This is currently a young shrub in the middle border and I’d be surprised if it flowered this year but when it matures, this will help fill the winter gap with deliciously scented unusual waxy yellow flowers; that’s if the cold weather doesn’t get to it first. I have taken a risk with this shrub as it’s not terribly winter hardy. Combining the plants mentioned above with a few more additions such as Mahonia and Daphne, this winter flowering gap should be a thing of the past. I just need to make a home for them in the garden.

A crocus (one of many) pushing through frozen ground

In the meantime, there are a surprising number of evergreen plants that stop the garden looking like a barren brown wasteland. There are the imposing Camellias, spires of Italian cypress, the broad leaves of foxgloves, various multi-coloured euonymus and of course, the tree line at the back is Scots Pine and we have the considerable rhododendron hedge all along one length of the garden. It’s far more green than I was expecting but none of it is flowering at the moment.

If I do manage to get out into the garden in what daylight we have, I’ll be sure to check on the Sarcococca in the greenhouse and see how far on the Crocus have come, then I’ll quickly head back inside to enjoy the warmth and comfort of this holiday season and make garden plans for the New Year.

Greenhouse rosemary in flower, but no bees to attend

6 Comments


  1. What ever you add to the garden to fill your gap will be incredible. I’m itching to send you swamp milkweed seeds for your swamp!

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    1. Hello Tammy, we might end up with some in the garden but I’m afraid we don’t have Monarch butterflies here, it’s a shame as they’re so pretty! I’m not sure who well start the back half of the garden as it all needs to be cleared first.

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  2. Seasons Greetings, Sunil…. I have a Daphne, (Bodense) which has flowers only at this time of the year, but has been in continuous flower since November, and won’t be over yet. Can recommend that one. Also, just outside the kitchen window, a large bowl of winter flowering violas, this year pale lilac and white which will last until the first bulbs are up and out. But now, of course, we yearn for Spring – but all we are getting (because it is winter and only just at the beginning of it too) is frost – beautiful in itself!

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    1. Hello Mrs Mac, Daphne Bodnatense “Dawn” has been on my list for a long time and I know the area of the border it will go in, it’s just not ready yet. We tried winter pansies and violas and they were miserable until the spring, when they suddenly flowered like crazy. I’m seeing more and more crocus leaves emerging despite the frosts and it’s very exciting as mass-bulbs in the garden have been a long time coming.

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  3. You grew Sarcococca from seed? That is impressive. The great thing about the wonderful plants you write about is the scent. Imagine how fabulous your garden will smell! Are you able to grow winter honeysuckle in your garden? Lonicera x purpusii ‘Winter Beauty’ would help to fill that winter gap. It has to be one of my favourite plants – it grows pretty fast too.

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    1. Hello Sarah, yes, they germinate and grow OK from seed but they are very slow growing plants and the ones I have planted out are several years old now and still less than half a foot high. It makes more sense to buy these as sizeable plants from the garden centre. I do want to have a winter honeysuckle as the one we left behind in the previous garden had such a strong sweet fragrance I would go out in all weathers just to smell it. I want to have a whole of flowering plants to look forward to in the winter just as I do for the summer months. Thanks for the variety suggestion, it will go on the shopping list!

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