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Winter flowering woody plants

Thanks to the many winter flowering plants available, it is possible to have a few colourful rays of hope even during the cold season. Most of these plants are not only nice to look at, they also smell good and help make the wait for spring seem more pleasant and shorter. But even if you haven't already thought of planting winter flowering plants in your garden, it's not too late to make a move. Since there is such a wide variety of plants available, we would like to point out a few particularly nice varieties with attractive flowers and scents here.

Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles Japonica)

Chaenomeles or flowering quinces grow virtually anywhere, except perhaps the tropics. They love the sun, they'll also tolerate semi-shade and they're incredibly water-wise, once established. The flowering quince is related to the edible quince and is part of the Rosaceae, or rose family, originating from China and Japan. They were formerly known as japonicas and a lot of people still know them as flowering japonicas. The flowers appear on bare stems from early winter till early spring, when the foliage reappears. The flowers are mostly single, with a boss of golden yellow stamens in the centre, but there are also a few semi-doubles. The colours are gorgeous too. There's ‘Nivalis’, which is pure white, ‘Apple Blossom’ that's soft pink and white. ‘Columbia’ is deep red. ‘Falconet Charlet’ has semi-double salmon-pink flowers. ‘Vermillion’ is orange and ‘Winter Cheer’ has scarlet-red flowers on a lovely compact bush. After flowering they produce a small fruit, which is a bit quince-like, and as these ripen they have the most exquisite, sweet, quince-like aroma. The fruit can actually be used to make a jelly or paste.
Wintersweet (chimonanthus praecox)
Bad weather, snow, and cold temperatures do not prevent the wintersweet from gracing us with its beautiful flowers and pleasant scent during winter. It is frost-hardy up to a temperature of -28°C and prefers fertile and porous soil. The flowers are approx. 2.5 cm long, with a creamy yellow colour and a red eye in the centre. They can start to flower in June, but the main flowering season is in August and September. The leaves appear after the flowers and turn a white to yellow in autumn. Since it has flowered rather sparingly in recent years and is somewhat more delicate, it should be planted in a protected and sunny location. Once wintersweet has settled in and becomes established, it is a fantastic winter flowering shrub which can grow to a height of 3 to 4 metres. It should be pruned very carefully, as wintersweet flowers on wood which is only two years old. The pleasant scent of its flowers can also be enjoyed indoors as its branches can easily be kept in a vase for a few days. This winter flowering shrub is endemic to China and unfortunately is largely unknown in Germany. 

White forsythia (abelyophyllum distichum)
White forsythia does not belong, as the name suggests, to the forsythia family. Its namesake blooms in the spring and has different flowers. Whilst the forsythia which flowers in late spring has yellow flowers, the white forsythia has beautiful white or delicate pink star-shaped flowers. This winter flowering plant is a genuine rarity. The 1.5 cm long flowers appear between July and October and may have white flowers one year and pink the next. It is thought that this is due to the differing absorption of trace elements or other active substances in the soil. White forsythia can grow to a height of 2 metres in a protected, sunny position and is ideal for smaller gardens. In a favourable location it is really easy to look after and extremely hardy. Even when cut and put in a vase, this elegant plant can be enjoyed indoor for several days. This handsome shrub originates from Korea.

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