A member of the rose family, the cotoneaster bursts into life in May and early June with a profusion of white or pale-pink, flat-petalled blooms, which bees love. With their long-lasting, prolific berries, they are also among the most useful fruiting shrubs in autumn, attractive both to humans and to birds.
“On these debatable borders of the year, spring’s foot half falters;
Scarce she yet may know the leafless blackthorn blossom from the snow”
~ Dante Gabriel Rossetti
The delicate blossom of the blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) appear like a ghostly mist spreading across the still bare hedgerows.
“the hedge’s a bridal robe of white fragrance”
~ Thomas Hardy
A symbol of fertility the blackthorn branches were burned and its ashes spread over the fields of our ancestors to ensure a profitable harvest.
A good choice for a small plot, this handsome tree is compact in size and works hard for its place in the garden by putting on shows of blossom, fruit and autumn leaf colour. Usually grown as a multi-stemmed specimen, it enjoys a sunny or partially shaded spot in moist soil. White blooms decorate the branches in early spring and are followed later in the season by purple fruits. In early autumn, the dark green leaves turn vivid shades of gold before falling. BBC Gardening
Camellias are one of the most popular winter- and spring-flowering shrubs, providing a vivid splash of colour when little else is in bloom. Although they need acid soil, they are easy to grow in containers of ericaceous (acidic) potting compost. This is my first bloom of 2015.
Witch Hazel otherwise known as Hamamelis virginiana is a truly wonderful winter-flowering plant. In addition to its healing powers, witch hazel has the ability to add colour and fragrance to this season of gloom. They display curious, and beautiful, spidery flowers that exude a sublime, somewhat spicy fragrance. Their colours range from pale yellow through orange and strong reds, and even purple.
Although they can grow into small trees it is easy to maintain as a much smaller size by pruning each year after flowering, once the plant is established. The smell alone is worth growing one of these little beauties in your garden.