By Deb Schwartzkopf
Near the end of winter fleeting bursts of color emerge in our landscape.
I follow them around the garden thinking of all that spring and summer will bring. These winter blooming plants bud around late January to early February, growing a little more established with each passing year. The color they bring balances out the grey of the Northwest Winter. Hope you enjoy this little collection. I will be adding to it periodically.
These small trees lose their soft green leaves in the fall after they turn yellow. After nurturing fuzzy brown buds all fall, in late January, crinkly, neon-yellow flowers loosen their four strap-like petals. They have an amazing citrus-sweet fragrance! At about six years old mine is about 3.5 feet tall (it is really just getting established and I hope it takes off soon). It has a beautiful arching shape like a martini glass. The leaves and bark of Witch Hazel are used to make an astringent with numerous medicinal uses. Great blog writing on several varieties here...
Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide'
This evergreen shrub has simple five-petal, crimson blooms with a bright yellow center. It has a light scent. This one is newer to me, but I hear it blooms from fall through winter! It may grow to 15' tall, so I planted it thoughtfully, so it may reach its full potential without drastic pruning. They also seem to like shade from the afternoon sun... I am looking forward to this evergreen screening my home from the street in the coming years. Link for more cultivation information on this specific variety.
Chinese Paper Brush or Yellow Daphne
This exotic looking plant is a deciduous, broadleaf, shrub native to the forests of China. It has leaves similar in shape to a Rhododendron, but they are softer. It leaves out in the spring, holding lush green leaves all summer, then losing them, beginning the circle again. The paw like buds swell and grow all winter. In the Seattle area, they bloom late January through February with no leaves in sight! They are fragrant and a delight in the winter garden. Cultivation info link...
These little beauties are attractive for their flowers, but also for their greenery. They make an attractive ground cover is semi-shaped to shaded area year round. There are many varieties, with flowers ranging from white, pink, and purple. Mine is doing quite well under a large maple tree. Here is a great cyclamen resource site (Link).