- Holiday Gift Ideas
- UC Marin Master Gardener Events & Classes
Garden Help from UC Marin Master Gardeners
- Farmers Markets
- Help Desk
- Japanese maples
- Container gardening
- Growing gorgeous camellias
- Redwood trees
- Pomegranates: an ancient tree
- Bulbs for spring
- Nothing quite like a freshly picked bouquet
- Seeds hold the miracle of life, so save, swap and share them
- Sold on Salvia
- Sudden Oak Death: a million trees gone and counting
- Habitat gardens
- Growing In Your Garden Now - Fava Beans
- Using water effectively in the garden
- Yikes, thrips
- Growing a salad in a pot
- Rain gardens: an attractive solution to a challenging environmental problem
- How to select bare root roses
- Lovely birds... or pests?
- Australian plants in winter
- Get a head start on spring with cold frames
- Snails and slugs: keep them out of the garden
- Sow seeds now for flowers in spring and summer
- Fire-safe landscaping
- Plants made for the shade
- Chinese pistache tree glows in autumn
- Attracting honey and native bees to your garden
- Sow wildflower seeds in fall for spring show
- Native shrubs create a visual anchor in landscapes - fast
- What to plant in the fall-winter veggie garden
- Proper pruning of wisteria for a plethora of blossoms
- Compost for every corner of your spring garden
- All about mushrooms
- Butterflies in the garden
- Growing blueberries
- How to plant a fruit tree
- Protecting plants from frost
- What's that plant?
- Bright spots of color lift the drabness of the winter garden
- Books for Marin gardeners
- Benefits of School Gardens
- Trees: not just nice to look at
- Dealing with mosquitos
- Epilobium – California fuchsia
- Why bees matter, and how you can help
- Picking the Right Plant for the Right Place in Your Garden
- What's That Plant?
- Keeping Cut Flowers Fresh
- Late Summer Color
- Growing Summer Squash
- Short on space? Containers!
- Herbs: tough, attractive, practical
- These plants are true companions
- Companion planting in the vegetable garden
- Get Grounded – Healthy Soil Does Matter
- Mushrooms on the March
- Our Gentle Winters are Good for Vegetables
- Rodents like it Warm
- Know What Makes an Invasive Species Invasive
- California Natives - Plant Like a Native
- Consider a Simple Water-Catchment System and Rain Garden/Bioswale Before Winter Rains Arrive
- Have You Scheduled a FREE Bay-Friendly Garden Walk?
- A Green Autumn
- Rx for Pests: Ants
- Fine Tune Your Garden
- Colorful Drought-Tolerant Plants Thrive in Marin
- Water Restrictions and Recognizing Signs of Water Stress
- UC Researcher Is Helping Plants Survive the Drought
- Summer Is Perfect For Peppers
- Do the Leaves on Your Trees Look Scorched?
- Fine Tune Your Garden
- How to Recognize Drought and Water Stress
- Spring is the Time for Potatoes, Asparagus and Citrus
- Don't Let Stink Bugs... Bug Your Vegetables
- Harvesting Berries
- Water Heroes
- Natural Cold Storage
- Fruit Trees; Why We Treat Them in Dormancy
- Fondness for Old Friends
- What Happens to Garden Bad Guys in Winter?
- Plants that aren't blown away by the wind
- A hill o' beans
- Fruit tree thinning
- Fragrant plants: Add some chocolate or Kool-Aid to your garden
- Top 10 resolutions for Marin gardeners
- Trees with interesting bark shine in winter
- Who says your garden has to be green?
- Plant bulbs now for spring beauty
- Gardener's checklist for fall
- Cover crops boost soil in vegetable beds
- Rx: Living with deer
- Growing berries in Marin
- How to build healthy soil
- Gardener's checklist for summer
- Water-saving tips for the home garden
- Gardener's checklist for spring
- Stop the popping - Controlling hairy bittercress
- How to control aphids
- Brightening up the winter garden
- Selecting a fruit tree
- What to plant and harvest in the winter vegetable garden
- Rain, rain, don't go away
- Gardener's checklist for winter
- Getting rid of rats
- Fall: a time for planning and planting
- Asparagus: spears for years
- Lawn: use it or lose it
- Rx for powdery mildew
- Community Outreach Projects of UC Marin Master Gardeners
- Great Gardening Information
- Selecting Plants
- Marin Master Gardener Independent Journal Articles
- How to Become a Master Gardener
- UC Marin Master Gardeners Opportunity Fund: Providing for the Future
Bright spots of color help lift the drabness of the winter garden
Winter offers a breathing space for the garden and gardener, but when for days on end the sun never shines, some bright spots of color do wonders to lift the drabness of the winter garden. Now is a good time to see where your garden is lacking in winter interest and to add some
year-round stars to perk things up.
Winter-blooming flowers carry forward the beauty and complexion of the garden as fall fades into winter. Fortunately, there are numerous varieties.
It's important to select plants that will perform well in the microclimates within your garden. Not all plants can weather the cold and heavy rains typical of our Mediterranean climate. Even though there are many plants that bloom in the winter, many of them are not suitable for Sunset hardiness zones 15, 16 and 17 in which Marin County sits. Fortunately, there is an enticing selection of colorful, winter-blooming bulbs that complement the blossoms and berries of a variety of outstanding vines,
shrubs and trees. Here are some worthy additions to your winter garden:
• Helleborus: From mid- to late winter, hellebores produce beautiful bell-shaped flowers in a wide variety of colors, including white, green, pink, red, purple and mahogany. These plants are also appreciated for their attractive foliage and because they are deer resistant. Plant in partial or full shade in good, well-drained soil amended with plenty of organic matter. Helleborus niger, also known as Christmas Rose, and Helleborus orientalis (Lenten Rose), both popular cultivars of this plant, thrive in many Marin gardens.
• Rhododendron: Several varieties of rhododendron add color to the winter garden from Christmas until late February. Rhododendron 'Christmas Cheer' (tight trusses of pink to white flowers) and rhododendron 'Rosamundi' (pink) are two excellent large leafed cultivars. Two Belgian Indica hybrid azaleas, 'Albert and Elizabeth' (white with pink edges)
and 'Paul Schame' (salmon), both profuse bloomers with lush foliage and large semi-double or double blossoms, do well where temperatures don't fall below 20 degrees. For best results, plant in well-drained soil in an area with morning sun and afternoon shade.
• Camellia: Camellias provide beautiful, showy blossoms as early as October and as late as May. The most well-known camellia, camellia japonica, is a favorite of many California gardeners. Among the many named winter-blooming varieties of this popular cultivar are 'Daikagura,' 'Debutante,' and 'Elegans,' all of which produce blossoms in various shades of pink. 'Silver Waves' and 'Alba Plena' bear double white flowers; 'Tom Knudson'
and 'Tomorrow,' large red flowers, and 'Wildfire,' semi-double orange red
flowers. Camellia oleifera, the hardiest of all camellia species, produces
small, fragrant white or cream flowers in autumn and early winter. Camellias
grow better and bear more attractive flowers if grown in well-drained, amended, slightly acidic soil in partial shade. For the best results, protect blossoms from wind and rain.
•Cyclamen: Cyclamen persicum, known commonly as poor man's orchid, bears showy lavender, pink, purple, red, salmon or white flowers from fall into spring. The flowers, suitable as cut flowers, are carried above a clump of attractive, heart-shaped, basal leaves, many with silver mottling. Cyclamen prefer partial shade or partial sun and a fairly rich, porous soil, which has been amended with lots of organic matter. Protect plants from snails and slugs.
• Clivia: Clivia miniata produces brilliant large clusters of funnel-shaped orange flowers from early winter to late spring. Flowers appear on stalks, which rise above dense clumps of dark green, strap-shaped leaves. These beautiful plants do best when planted in groups in shaded areas of the garden. As clivias are damaged by freezing temperatures and survive only to 25 degrees, plant them in a well-protected, shaded area of the garden.
• Rhaphiolepsis: Rhaphiolepsis indica, Indian hawthorn, is a profuse bloomer that bears fragrant, showy white to nearly red flowers from late fall to mid-winter. Plant in full sun.
• Clematis: Two evergreen clematis, Clematis cirrhosa 'Wisley Cream' and clematis 'Freckles' reliably bring forth cream-colored, small, bell-shaped flowers all winter into spring. Clematis cirrhosa 'Wisley Cream' was selected in 2002 to receive the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Merit, which is given to recognize outstanding garden plants. Clematis require excellent drainage and a sunny, sheltered position that is protected from the wind.
• Ribes: A California native, ribes speciosum (fuchsia flowering gooseberry) is treasured, despite its thorny stems, for its deep crimson to cherry red flowers, which last from winter into spring. Ribes sanguineum (pink winter currant), also native to California, produces drooping 2- to 4-inch clusters of 10 to 30 small, deep pink to red flowers. Plant in well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade.
Other noteworthy plants that can add sparkle to a winter garden include:
• Bulbs: Galanthus nivalis and galanthus elwesii (snowdrops), chionodoxa lucillae (glory of the snow); vines: jasminum mesnyi (primrose jasmine), jasminum nudiflorum (winter jasmine)
• Perennials: primula malacoides (fairy primrose), chaenomeles (flowering quince) and himealis (winter pansies)
• Trees/shrubs: garry elliptica (silk tassel bush), tagetes lemmonii (Copper Canyon daisy) and callistemon (bottlebrush)
With all these wonderful winter blooming specimens to choose from, it shouldn't be quite as hard to wait for the first daffodils and crocus to emerge in early spring.
By Martha Proctor