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We look at some of the best autumn and winter bedding plants to brighten up your garden on a cold winters day
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As winter weather begins to take its toll and the cold weather weighs on you, rest assured you can add a few autumn and winter bedding plants to brighten your garden and your spirits. Well placed bedding plants can add colour and texture where it is otherwise lacking. So what plants are the best? Hardiness will vary in these plants so be aware of your climate and whether exceptional cold is in your future. Some of these plants, too, will come back in the Spring while others last one season and need to be replaced in spring with new spring and summer bedding plants. So pick according to your preferences.
Cyclamen (Indoor and hardy outdoor varieties)
If planting outdoors, look for Cyclamen coum, Cyclamen hederifolium and Cyclamen purpurascens. These are perfect for planting under trees, in sheltered areas and even in shade and will survive the winter snow too.
Tough winter weather can kill them, but some hardy varieties will thrive in autumn and even through winter if you can place them in such a position as to afford them optimum protection and they might last through the worst of it. Alternatively, you can cover them with fleece on cold nights. Still, you will get an abundance of flowers while they last, making it the perfect seasonal addition to your garden. The hardy varieties tend to have smaller flowers and are less impressive than the indoor varieties you often see in single pots around Christmas.
Non-hardy cyclamen are perfect all year round (and make for excellent hanging basket plants too). You can find marbled leaves with bright pink, red, or white flowers on this hardy breed.
Winter flowering pansies come in a variety of colours and mixtures. Blues, purples, yellows, oranges, and mixtures of yellow and burgundy. You can even pick winter varieties that have black markings on the otherwise colourful flowers. Moreover, they will give you flowers for months on end. These are fully hardy so all you need do is deadhead the flowers when they finish and they will rebloom later in the season.
Winter flowering violas look like they are smiling at you. These flowers are just as hardy as pansies and they offer the unique butterfly petal arrangement situated above the lower tongue petal. You can find mixtures of two or three colours to give the appearance that Spring has sprung in your garden. Even more important, some varieties even have a scent. This means you can find two-toned flowers full of unique shapes, colours, and smells. These are perfect for planting in baskets, borders and containers.
The double primrose is something you can buy in garden centres and nurseries in the Autumn. The double form rosettes can be grown in containers or hanging baskets and subsequently transferred to the ground when the season changes. You can get varieties that have single colours or silver edges on the white, blue, or purple flowers. The doubles typically are sterile which means they will flower longer than plants reliant upon pollination. They are also perennial which means they grow every year and they can even be divided and moved to other parts of the garden if they spread too much.
These flowers have a single stem on top of which are multiple flowers. You can enjoy winter and springtime flowers, some of which are scented. They come in a range of colours, some two-toned, so you can pick something you like best. This is another variety that is suitable for bedding or containers and even window boxes.
If you are looking for a pom pom appearance in your flowers, Bellis look like soft, fluffy buttons. You can find reddish pink, pink/white, and white. These look quite dramatic when you grow them in beds, because they offer a bright texture and colour all winter long.
Remember that winter bedding is an opportunity to get creative. If you have a garden that is sheltered and protected from the worst of the weather, you could even plant things like wicker baskets with bedding and then pick some of these plants to cultivate. If it’s colder in your area you can choose wood, stone, or terra cotta to better protect your flowers. Consider a riot of blues and purples, a contrast with red, and everything in between.