The Fraser Valley, with its mild coastal climate, provides a unique opportunity for gardeners to enjoy their outdoor spaces year-round. While many regions are covered in snow during the winter months, gardens in our area can remain vibrant with the right selection of winter interest plants. In this blog, we’ll explore some beautiful and resilient plants that will keep your garden looking lively and inviting, even when the temperatures drop.
Camellias are a favourite choice for winter gardens in our area. These evergreen shrubs often bloom in late fall and continue to flower through the winter months, often with stunning, waxy blossoms in shades of white, pink, or red. They prefer partial shade and well-drained soil, making them a great addition to any garden. Look for the Camellia sasanqua types such as ‘Appleblossom’, ‘Kanjiro’ or ‘Yuletide’ for best winter display. If you are in an area which can receive particularly strong cold winds, it is recommended you wrap your camellia in white frost cloth during inclement weather. In areas nearer the coast, this is not usually necessary.
Known as the “Christmas Rose” or “Lenten Rose,” Hellebores are a perfect choice for winter interest. They produce unique, pendulous flowers from late winter through early spring. Hellebores thrive in shade or partial shade and are quite hardy, making them an excellent choice. There are many flower colour and leaf textures to choose from. Their leaves remain year-round so excellent for winter texture.
3. Witch Hazel (Hamamelis)
Witch Hazel is another delightful winter bloomer. Its fragrant, spidery flowers typically appear in late winter, usually taken as a sign that spring is near. Witch Hazel prefers well-drained soil and full sun to light shade. The vibrant yellow or red flowers are a welcome sight in the winter garden. They do require quite a bit of space but can be pruned back hard every few years if they begin to take up too much space.
4. Snowdrops (Galanthus)
Snowdrops are some of the earliest bulbs to emerge in the late winter or early spring, often pushing through the snow. These delicate, nodding flowers can be planted in drifts for a stunning effect. They require well-drained soil and can be planted in full sun to partial shade.
5. Winter Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum)
Winter Jasmine is a trailing, deciduous shrub that provides a burst of bright yellow flowers in the late winter and early spring. This plant is low-maintenance and can be grown in full sun to partial shade. Its arching branches add an appealing structure to your winter garden. It can also be trained against a wall
6. Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium)
Mahonia, or Oregon Grape, is a striking evergreen shrub known for its holly-like foliage and bright yellow flowers in the late winter. Mahonia aquifolium even produce edible berries, hence its common name. Mahonia prefer partial shade and well-drained soil and is native to the PNW so you know that it will perform well in your garden.
7. Red Twig Dogwood (Cornus sp.)
For beautiful winter colour, consider adding Red Twig Dogwoods to your garden. The vibrant red stems stand out against the winter landscape. It’s a hardy deciduous shrub that can thrive in full sun to partial shade. Cutting it down to the ground in the spring every few years will maintain the vibrancy of colour in the stems. There are also yellow, green and orange stem varieties available. Ivory Halo is a smaller variety to note with variegated leaves in spring and summer followed by bright red stems in the winter.
8. Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina domestica cvs.)
Do not be deterred by the common name of this colourful plant, it shares no relation to bamboo and can be safely planted in your garden without concern of invasive roots. Few plants can rival the vibrant, crimson-red winter colours of heavenly bamboo and with many dwarf varieties available; suitable for both pots and in garden beds for a splash of colour year-round. Even though its difficult to choose a favourite we recommend, Moon Bay, Gulf Stream, Burgundy Wine and Firepower.
Our mild winters offer a unique opportunity to keep your garden vibrant year-round with the right selection of winter interest plants. By incorporating a variety of these cold-tolerant options, you can create a garden that remains a source of beauty and inspiration even during the coldest months. Whether you prefer vibrant blooms or colourful stems, there are plenty of options to choose from for your garden. So, get planting and enjoy the beauty of your winter garden oasis!