Uplifting winter flowering shrubs  

Gardens often feel a bit bleak at this time of year, but winter flowering shrubs can keep the beauty, colour and scent going throughout the colder months. The flowers on these shrubs tend to have a particularly powerful perfume as they have to work harder to attract the few pollinating insects. Ideally find a space along a garden paths or in a pot or bed near a door so you can enjoy the gorgeous scent as you pass, dotting them around the garden, so that they don’t overpower each other. If there’s no scent, plant them near a window so that you can enjoy the pretty blooms from indoors. 

Here are my favourite winter flowering shrubs. 

Daphne: With semi-evergreen leaves that give the garden structure, this must have-have shrub bursts into bloom in January with delicate clusters of highly-scented pink flowers. Daphne odora varieties have handsome leaves and Daphne ‘Perfume Princess’ is a lovely neat variety covered with clusters of pale pink flowers. They’re happy in full sun or partial shade, ideally planted somewhere where you can enjoy the delicious scent. The more upright semi-evergreen ‘Daphne Bholua’ is lovely underplanted with Cyclamen coum. 

Edgeworthia: This fabulous shrub that flowers from February into early spring, makes a stunning focal point in the winter garden, placed somewhere in full sun or dappled shade that’s visible from the house. Closely related to daphne, varieties of Edgeworthia also have clusters of scented flowers, but yellow rather than pink, on bare stems.  

Hamamelis: With delicate scented thread-like petals on bare stems, this shrub makes a showy focal point from December to March. H x intermedia ‘Jelena’has beautiful golden orange flowers, while H x intermedia ‘Diane’ has stunning blood red flowers. Bring in a few stems for a scented flower display.   

Sarcococca. This is another wonderful shrub for winter with a mass of honey-sweet scented creamy flowers.  S. ‘confusa’ has dark glossy leaves while S. hookeriana varieties have mid green leaves and reddish stems. This is a good shrub for dry shade and associates well with other woodland planting.  

Viburnum. Winter flowering viburnum such as V. bodnantense ‘Dawn’ and closely related Viburnum farreri both have clusters of sweet-smelling flowers on bare stems. They have incredibly pretty clusters of fragrant pink flowers (from November to March) and a neat upright habit. Plant them near a path in sun or part shade, where they can be appreciated up close. If you want an evergreen shrub, Viburnum tinus also comes into life around now with heads of  pretty white flowers. V ‘Eve Price’ is a neat variety with pink tinged flowers opening from pink buds on reddish stems.