Winter colors for cold flower beds

Winter colors for cold flower beds

Frost is upon us! And after this very cold weekend we can say that by now the doors have opened and has entered our gardens without even too much warning and certainly not very welcome.
And while we cover ourselves from head to toe, the garden has gradually been stripped of any plant decoration leaving a carpet of leaves on the lawns and a pale memory of what its wonderful colors are.
Today we try to answer a green architecture question:
how is it possible to obtain a colored flower bed even in particularly cold corners and move to the elements?

Winter blooms

While in summer the luxuriant world of annual flowering plants allows us to choose between many and very colorful specimens, in winter the choices are limited.
The gardens are somehow always full of colorful flowers even before Christmas, but if we stop to observe carefully, only very few of them are suitable to withstand freezing temperatures. Let's first make a distinction between plants that resist cold and plants that bloom in the cold, it's not exactly the same thing.
Even all species belonging to the genus Viola, such as Viola tricolor, which are sold as winter annual plants, in many areas of the garden will not offer the desired effect of color and winter vitality.
For example, they are not suitable for shaded and particularly cold areas, as in addition to having a very limited flowering due to the low amount of light, due to the very low temperatures their slender stems will be victims of strong frosts that will make them look like withered, especially on days without sunshine and early in the morning.
Even less suitable for this purpose are the cyclamens, which suffer very much from the damp cold of shady areas.
Among the most suitable herbaceous plants to be planted, Helleborus niger (Christmas rose) represents one of the best choices, its long tubular stems are very resistant to cold and the colored bracts are present from December to March, resisting even in most areas exposed to frosty winter winds.
The ornamental cabbage (Brassica oleracea), with its curled and painted leaves of the most imaginative shades of violet is a species very suitable for a cold flowerbed. The different hybridizations and cultivars offer us the possibility of bringing life and color into dull corners.


Perennial, evergreen with berries and decorative foliage, the genus Nandina has all the characteristics to be crowned the snow queen. As in many other evergreen berberidacee, the foliage in winter changes color turning into full reddish hues and in stark contrast to the grays and other pale colors of winter.
For further decoration there is a copious production of reddish berries collected in bunches and very much appreciated by birds.
In this genus a variety that presents a true explosion of color in the middle of winter is the very compact Nandina domestica firepower, not exceeding 40/60 cm. Of height. For particularly creative gardeners (or in my case for particularly demanding customers) I recommend the use of N. Firepower also as a replacement in small cold flowerbeds; you can then transplant them in other areas of the garden in spring or grow them in pots and if treated with skill they can be put back into the winter in winter. (the practice of repotting and transplanting is widely used in nurseries for cultivation needs, so do not be afraid to cause damage to the plant)

Colored branches and berries

To expand the range of our choices we can also use some small shrubs with decorative berries:
the Pernezia of Chile a small evergreen with white or pinkish berries, some varieties of Berberis and the Pyracantha navaho, a dwarf species of Pyracantha that produces small orange berries. In general, the evergreen ground coverings such as Lonicera n. and Cotoneaster h. They can fill some empty spaces in our cool flower beds with their green shades.
There are also medium-sized shrubs such as the Cornus alba, Cornus stolonifera with colorful branches and others with copious productions of winter berries and flowers such as Ilex aquifolium and Mahonia Japonica, but this space intends to take into consideration only the species suitable for a small flowerbed intended for host annual blooms in summer.

Design a flowerbed

All the suggested species lend themselves to being used together in a project to embellish a corner of the garden. A small domestic Nandina hedge, with a group of Nandina firepower at its feet, flanked by a patch of hellebores and variegated cream-colored ornamental cabbages, forms a very colorful winter bed that is resistant even to the lowest temperatures.
Alternatively, combinations with purple cabbages in various variegations alternated with hellebori and Pernezia spots constitute a winter rug with an original and refined style.