Are you kidding? Although it is difficult to cultivate the cold and wet winter soils, with a bit of forethought you can make your garden a delight in winter, which in turn encourages everyone to get outside and enjoy it. Nature has provided you with many gorgeous winter flowering plants you can use to liven up your surroundings, all you have to do is choose which ones you like.
Although, this may not be as easy a task as you might think. There are so many options it is silly, and choosing between them all can prove to be rather difficult! For lack of a better idea, I will list them alphabetically.
We’ll start with Acacia.
There are around 1200 species, called Wattles in their native Australia, but there are other names such as whistling thorn or thorntree. Others are also found in Africa, Europe, Asia and North and South America. They’re actually part of the legume family, and you can see this in the seed pods and seeds, which look just like little beans. Most of them are very cold tolerant, with several of them able to withstand temperatures as low as 10 degrees F.
The Box-Leaf Wattle, Acacia buxifolia, also called box leaf thorn or box-leaved acacia, is an Australian native, growing anywhere from 3 – 13 feet tall and requiring full sun. As the name suggests, this species’ leaves resemble those of the Boxwoods (Buxus spp.), and can tolerate temperatures down to 19.4 degrees.
Next up is the coast wattle or Sydney Golden Wattle, Acacia longifolia. As the common name suggests, this one is an Australian native, and can be extraordinarily useful as a garden plant. Not only is it very frost tolerant, surviving temperatures as low as 19 degrees, but is also very salt and drought tolerant. This makes it perfect for windbreaks and many other low maintenance uses. Due to its hardiness however, it can multiply to the point that it becomes a nuisance, and it has been declared a pest in South Africa.
I saved the best acacia till last, and it’s Acacia glaucoptera, The Flat Wattle. It’s native to Western Australia, has the same cold tolerance as its more standard looking cousins, but has very unique foliage. The tiny little flower balls appear to grow on the leaves themselves, and provide a spectacular color contrast.
Of the 1200 or so species, there is one that differs in flower color from the usual yellow range, and produces gorgeous pink flowers. It is native to far north eastern Queensland, and unfortunately is critically endangered.
Warning!! If you are prone to hay fever you may want to think twice about Acacia. They produce copious amounts of pollen, and I can tell you from personal experience that it is bad news.
Next up is Cyclamen.
Twenty three species of Cyclamen means that you can’t fail to find one that you will love. They are native to Europe and the Mediterranean Basin, with one species found in Somalia The lowers come in varying shades of white, pink and purple, and the leaves are also beautifully variegated. They grow from a tuber, and there are varieties that bloom at any given time of the year. The autumn and winter flowering kinds are the ones you want, and there is plenty of choice. Cyclamen purpurascens is a lovely autumn flowering species with deep pink flowers. It comes in three different forms, Cyclamen purpurascens purpurascens with pink to purple flowers, Cyclamen purpurascens carmineolineatum with white flowers with a a thin carmine band, and Cyclamen purpurascens album with all white flowers.
So that’s got you sorted for autumn and the start of winter, now you need to go get some others to extend the flowering period. Cyclamen persicum, Cyclamen
hederifolium, and Cyclamen coum are all winter flowering varieties, and will brighten your garden for just that little bit longer. Persicum will only tolerate a brief and mild frost, whereas hederifolium and coum can handle temperatures as low as -4° F.
I will continue this list in subsequent posts, and if any readers have comments or ideas I would love to hear them. If I get enough I could collate them and share with everyone. Have a great 2015, and happy gardening.
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