Friday, January 7, 2011

Winter Gardening with Kaiti O'Donnell - DSBG Lead Horticulturist

A winter garden is much more than just the silhouettes of bare branched, deciduous trees against the gray winter sky, and more than the shrubs whose flowers have long since turned to berries. A winter garden is more than just the scent of evergreen conifers that hint at the holiday season to come.

In addition to the outline of branches against a chilly winter backdrop, berries and textural bark – take note of a few plants worthy of mention that provide bloom as well as fragrance in the winter landscape.

Take for example Edgeworthia chrysantha, also known as rice paper plant that is featured in the Four Seasons garden. Not only will the unusual flowers entice you into taking a closer look, but the fragrance will surely make you look forward to each future winter come. What’s more, this unique shrub stays in bloom for several weeks!

Another winter blooming plant worth mentioning is Jasminum nudiflorum-an interesting shrub that provides a characteristic mound of arching green branches throughout the year followed by a vibrant, long lasting display of fragrant yellow blossoms in January.

Lonicera fragrantissima, a non invasive honeysuckle,(unlike it’s vine cousin),- produces a fragrance so notably sweet that it is to die for .

Camelia sasanqua and C. japonica have countless cultivated varieties, too many to name, - in fact, but these lovely broad-leaf evergreens provide a long season of interest-with the earliest varieties setting bud and often blooming as early as October. Others show flowers in middle to late winter, while others bloom through the early parts of spring. Fragrances range from sweet to spicy, and colors include a wide array of pinks and reds, white and rarely, but occasionally yellow. Flower shapes are many and include single, double, rose and peony forms. Because of their year round interest, robust nature and all around versatility- Camellias are a must have for any southern garden.

In years when winter weather is mild – Winter Daphne will perform true to its name generally showing blooms in February and exuding a wonderfully sweet fragrance.

For the tail end of winter into early spring note the Winter Hazel which may provide late winter to early spring interest with its fringy and fragrant blooms.

Early flowering spring bulbs such as Glory of the Snow, Snowdrops, species Crocus and even some daffodil varieties such as February Gold will often surprise you by emerging from the ground in late winter months .

Thus, the possibilities for winter blooming plants are more vast than you think and some of the season’s finest examples can be seen throughout the Garden .


  1. I do enjoy reading your thoughts and information. In my own way I try to be a help to those who live in my area along Lake Michigan at my blog: I use lots of photos especially during these Winter months. Seems we can all be of help in our quest for gardening inspiration. Thanks for the part you play in that. Jack

  2. I'd love to see some orchid photos!