Reach for some old-fashioned bedding plants as winter approaches - you can’t beat them for cheering up pots, window boxes and borders.
Keep deadheading these compact and bright winter favourites and they’ll flower for weeks on end. They come in a range of bright colours, including deep royal purple, yellow, pink and bi-colour. For fragrance, too, look out for ‘Most Scented Mix’. 10cm x 10cm in height and spread.
2. Bellis perennis
Neat and compact with pretty pompom flowers in shades of red, white and pink. They’ll start flowering in late winter and carry on right through spring. A froth of loveliness, ideal for window boxes and containers, and best planted en masse. 15cm x 15cm in height and spread.
3. Winter heathers (Erica carnea)
These will flower from winter to mid spring, in soft shades of pink and white. Some have golden foliage. A nice choice for a rockery or alpine bed, perhaps planted up in an old Belfast sink. 15cm x 15cm in height and spread.
4. Winter pansies
The winter bedding stalwart, pansies are hugely versatile and will literally flower for months, especially if you keep deadheading. Pick a colour and you’ll find a pansy: white, purple, orange, read, yellow and blue. 15cm x 15cm in height and spread.
5. Cyclamen coum
These pretty corms will flower through the dullest of winter days, brightening your garden with really dainty nodding flowers in pink or white, and fabulously intricate marbled leaves. A must-have for a semi-shaded spot.
A little smaller than pansies, and with daintier flowers, so just that little bit more subtle. But just as jolly. You’ll find trailing as well as upright varieties, in an unimaginable range of colours. Again, deadhead to keep the flowers coming from autumn through to spring. 10cm x 10cm in height and spread.
7. Senecio ‘Silver Dust’
A really festive-looking foliage plant with finely divided silver leaves. It’s brilliant for providing a backdrop to, say, a window box of deep blue violas of pansies, to really make the colours sing. 40cm x 40cm in height and spread.
The rounded hummocks of thymes, especially the variegated kinds, provide a rich evergreen foil for flowering plants - try them with violas or underplant with early miniature daffodils that will come through in spring. 15cm x 15cm in height and spread.
Classic garden sage, Salvia officinalis, is in fact a small evergreen shrub, which makes it really useful for adding colour to winter pots and tubs. It comes in some lovely shades of green and purple, plus there’s a variegated one, which is great for brightening things up. 40cm x 40cm in height and spread.
The fabulous ruffled, evergreen foliage plants come in a surprising array of colours, from zingy lime greens to deep purples, burgundies, black, pink and marmalade orange. Plant them en masse for impact, and use as a foil for contrasting flowering plants. 30cm x 30cm in height and spread.