Where we turn for flowers in winter

snow on blossoms

It was when I was living in Appalachia that I first learned that pansies were actually a winter flower, that could survive frost and even snow. I’d only seen them used in summer on the West Coast, though certainly I remember my Grandmother’s fondness for them. “They have such sweet faces,” she always said. And of course, they do. I’m certain you’ve found, as I have, that they are
reliable, sturdy, abundant and generous in their bounty and I’m ever so grateful for what they offer me regardless of the season.

One would think we are particularly challenged at this time of year to find our necessary Flower Fixes, but it really is not that difficult if one is creative, and I actually cherish this time when I can grow my cyclamen out on the front porch,
knowing they actually relish the colder weather. They suffer through summers only at my insistence. Even if you are in less temperate climates you are surely enjoying the cyclamen so readily available in all the stores where we all find our flowers, as they have, in fact, become a staple at Christmastime. I’ve had a charming magenta bunch out front all through the summer, and it’s still chugging merrily along, again, much relieved with the colder climate (and this does include freezing temps. each night!). And then I have a row of them–red and green pots with red cyclamen in each. Very festive. They greet folks at the door. I find them both elegant and charming. Love them, love them!

I went to my local nurseryman, John (everyone knows him in this town; if you say “plant” and “John” in the same sentence, everyone knows who you mean),
and read him my list of Sources of Flowers in Winter and asked him to come up with a few more. Here’s what we came up with together. Check this out:

viola (of course–goes with pansies)
calendula (he calls it winter marigold)
alyssum (John’s brother says only the white one–does anyone know if this is
true? My purple one doesn’t know this apparently and is still alive.)
Iceland poppy (sounds right)
English daisy (another one that prefers colder clime)
mums (though I never grow them)
and camelias, especially some early bloomers

Does anyone know any others we missed?

Fortunately this is a time of year when we are surrounded by flowers in our homes, particularly pointsettia, and I’m certainly enjoying the variegated variety this year, aren’t you? I always feel a bit guilty and a little sad that they are a tropical plant and at season’s end I will have to recycle, but, they do bring so much gaiety to our hearth and home, so they do serve that purpose. And what better time to bring red roses to our tables than Christmas? And are you like I am and have paperwhites on the kitchen table? They are beginning to blossom and I catch their sweet scent walking into the kitchen. Delicious! And don’t get me started on the beauty of the amaryllis! I have a basket of them in my home office, and I can’t wait until they begin to open their big buds! And this year I chose to bring two hydrangeas into my Christmas theme. I have a beautiful white lacy one in the main bathroom and a very dark purple/green heirloom variety in my own room. It’s spectacular. I don’t know what the angels were thinking when they came up with that! Beauty. They were thinking Beauty. What a gift.

It’s far too early to be longing for spring. The first day of winter is nearly upon us. And our choices are abundant regardless of where we find ourselves. Nevertheless, spring and summer are probably not far from your mind, and thus I here include a verse from a poet I have just discovered through a very nice friend. (Thank you, David.) Pull it out again in February when you get antsy. Meanwhile, enjoy.

Have patience; here are flowers and songs of birds,
Beauty and fragrance, wealth of sound and sight,
All summer’s glory thine from morn till night,
And life too full of joy for uttered words.

Celia Thaxter, “Land-locked” (1860)


Love and blessings,

10 Responses to “Where we turn for flowers in winter”

  1. Wow, i didnt know that pansies are winter flowers, well, that’s probably why i see a lot of it during the holidays.

  2. Intersesting enough, my geraniums are in full bloom and so very happy. I pulled them under our large overhang so they would not freeze .. They are not burning up under the Ukiah sun. My Lavendula are also in full bloom and then what about the Red Hot Pokers ,incredible. I gave up on the cyclamens as the squirrels, Rosie and Rocky just love them. Oh well it is their Christmas treat, but there are none left now. I love each andy every season, it is always a wonderous suprise.

  3. You named your squirrels??? LOL! Too cute!

  4. I have no idea what these would do in your climate but here in Connecticut some of these bloom in January if it isn’t too bad a winter. If it is bad they often bloom a little later but still what I would consider the winter.

    Bodnant Viburnum ‘Dawn’ (Viburnum x bodnantense)

    Winter Jasmine (Jasmine nudiflorum)

    Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis)

    Oriental Paper Bush (Edgeworthia papyrifera)

    I am not sure where the other meaning for the word Pansy comes from. They are one of the toughest flowers around, often blooming after being encased in ice and snow multiple times. Very dependable and always a welcome sight to my eyes.

    Witch Hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘ Arnold Promise’)

  5. Thanks! I will look them all up! Oriental Paper Bush sounds intriguing!

  6. Dadelions are still hanging around my house…does that count, lol!

    Ohhh I love your snow picture!!!

  7. Hi, Inadvertent Farmer! I think dandelions do count, simply for their charm, don’t you? Glad you liked the snow pic. I’m very fond of it myself. 🙂 Kathryn xoxo

  8. Hi, Alexandre, and welcome! Thank you!
    I’m delighted you are enjoying the blog and I look forward to having you as a subscriber! Kathryn xoxo

  9. Thank you for this wonderful website, Ms. Hall. I love being able to read about winter flowers and to feel the energy of yourself and other people who derive a certain transcendance from the appreciation of flowers. I was getting ready to paint a few cards for the New Year for people (just dabbling with some easy acrylics) and thought I would look up some names of winter flowers to get ideas for blossom ideas–and here is your website. How fun to read about all the possibilities. Once in a while, here in E. Lansing, MI, USA, we do see pansies poking through the snow and others I will have to be on the watch for!! Happy New Year and blessings to you.

  10. Thank you, Shelley Smithson, for your lovely New Year’s greeting! I’m glad you found a bit of inspiration here!

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