Lighten up the darkness with delicate colors and sweet scents.

  • Nigel Colborn claims that we enjoy the mildest winters of Northern Europe 
  • A UK-based expert in gardening recommends taking advantage of milder winters  
  • Flowers are more common among winter perennials than ever before. 

If November is depressing, here’s an idea: Remind yourself that Northern Europe has the mildest winters. Our western coasts have been sheltered by warm currents for centuries. Now, however, the cold spells and early springs seem less common.

While Germany and the Netherlands freeze, flowers can be picked in February. Climate change has been proven man-made. It must be stopped. We must do our best to make winters more bearable.

Today flowers are abundant. In February of 1930, snowdrops were at their peak. They peak one month earlier, as do their yellow aconites natural teammates.

Flowers are appearing earlier and more frequently even among winter perennials. North African Iris de Guilfordis produced bunches upon lots of pickable flower from February to early spring. My plants are already going berserk this year with new buds appearing every day.

Cheerful: Daphne bholua Spring Beauty has star quality and loves sheltered spots

Happy: Daphne Bholua Spring Beauty is a star and loves safe spots

My part of Lincolnshire borders the North Sea and is known for being bleak. Autumnflowering nerines that are pink would normally be frozen by this time. They are still fresh from the front garden, but they haven’t lost their dew. Why?

Since April, there has been no air frost.

These plants that bloom late are very valuable. A big characteristic of winter-flowering plants, however is their fragrance.


There are many fragrant winter shrubs. If you want to add more charm and beauty in the winter, consider adding a few off-season shrubs.

Planting shrubs or trees at this time is an ideal opportunity. You can get your first blooms this year by choosing winter-blooming varieties.

Lonicera fragranceissima is related to climbing honeysuckles and is a winter blooming shrub.

L. x Purpusii Winter Beauty (a great variety) has white and cream-colored flowers that are intensely aromatic. They both grow big but can be pruned easily.

Chimonanthus Praecox, also known as Wintersweet, is a shrub that produces intensely fragrant and parchment-coloured flowers. The plant can stand free but grows up to 4m. It is also easy to train by placing it against a wall.

Daphnes are great for sheltered areas. All of them are good. Daphne Bhoola, the prettiest, most fragrant and very popular, is a real star. Sarcococca is a good choice for small areas. Sarcococca is a fragrant, evergreen shrub that can be trimmed easily. 


Winter-flowering cherry, plums as well Japanese apricot and dogwood are all available. Every one can provide a bright winter display. Even small trees need to be kept busy all year.

My previous garden had a Prunus subhirtella Autumnalis Rosea winter cherry that presided over the lawn. It grew to be quite large. It opened its first pink flower as soon as the last leaves had fallen and then it continued to flower until the new spring leaves appeared.

Arbutus unedo (or strawberry tree) is one of the best evergreens for winterflowering. This tree has a russet bark as well small clusters with cream, lantern-shaped blooms. Autumn is the best time to ripen red, rough-skinned fruit.

Prunus mume, a Japanese apricot with pink flowers in winter, is the perfect tree. Benichidori has the most beautiful, dark pink flowers.