As long as it doesn’t freeze, it’s possible to work on flowering the garden or the balcony even in winter. Perennial and spring bulbs are on the planting checklist here!
“Winter, the earth weeps; the sun, cold, pale and soft, delays its appearance and hastens its leave, as if irked to have to show at all.”
These verses by French poet Victor Hugo accurately put into words what flower-lovers feel when winter sets in. Nonetheless, there are still quite a lot of things that can be done in the planting department, all of which will decorate gardens and containers and prepare the first days of spring.
Perennial winter flowers
Perennials will settle down in their growing beds or rocky ground. Clearly the queen of the season, hellebore can be planted all year round on non-frost days, and will bloom from November to March. Both hardy and elegant, this flower, also called the Christmas rose exists in several varieties and colors which range from greenish-white to pink to purple. Cool soil suits it well, it isn’t afraid of shade, but watch out for stronger gusts of wind.
Winter heather, holly, yellow, orange or red black-spotted pansies, can bridge the gap until the first primroses bloom. Not to be omitted are also the traditional chrysanthemum and the decidedly not traditional ornamental cabbages.
Now, all that’s left is to set the stage for when nature awakens with spring bulbs. Since fall temperatures are getting milder and milder, these can still be found in gardening stores in December; they’re often at a discount at the end of the season. Check that you’re buying quality bulbs: select large bulbs that are firm to the touch and feel rather heavy. Verify that they don’t show any signs of mold. Be sure to purchase a large amount, enough that when they bloom they’ll really form a large, bright cluster.
Try something new and go for crocus flowers. These bloom right at winter’s end, at the foot of trees or along the edge of the lawn, wherever they can get sun or part shade. Once they’ve settled in, the bunches will grow back year after year if you haven’t shorn their leaves off when mowing!
In December, it is still time to plant tulip bulbs. Tulips will bloom from March to May in well-drained soil with full sun. Mix colors and form clusters of 20 to 50 bulbs. Up until January, you can still plant narcissus and daffodils indoors, first in a cool and moist place. When leaves start sprouting, transfer them to a place with lots of light. Same thing for the fragrant bell-flowered hyacinths.