Mahonia 'Winter Sun'

Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’—Small Garden Shrubs for Winter

Early flowering Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’ is the highlight in my garden this Christmas in Amsterdam.

‘Winter Sun’ flowers from the end of November through into January. This is earlier than the better known Mahonia ‘Charity’ which will be ready to take over its role somewhat later in the new year.

These easy growing shrubs are ideal for smaller gardens as they rarely exceed two meters tall and can always be cut back if necessary. Neutral soil that is not prone to dry out in the summer and some shelter is all that it requires to provide year round impact. The evergreen foliage is bold, glossy rich green, arranged in tiers along its predominantly upright stems. The bright yellow flowers are attractive in bud and then last for months around the end of the year. Eventually blue black berries appear in spring.

Compact upright shrubs like Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’ are in scale with the sort of mixed perennial planting that might be used in semi-shaded parts of a garden. In fact this is not a shrub for open sunny situations, but rather light shade as might be found at the edge of a woodland. Of course it is mentioned in my Shrub Features eBook.

Mahonia 'Winter Sun'

Whilst my winter garden is predominantly a medley of shades of brown and black this amenable shrub attracts most attention with its healthy looking foliage and fresh, bright yellow flower spikes.

Arbutus unedo

Another good evergreen, winter flowering shrub is Arbutus unedo. It started flowering here a couple of months ago just at the time that the strawberry like fruits from last year had ripened. Needless to say the showy red fruits have long since been devoured.

Many deciduous shrubs are still playing a role in the garden at the end of this year. The desiccated flower heads of different types of hydrangeas are often surprisingly beautiful when caught by shafts of low level sunlight.

Spirea thunbergii ‘Ogen’ is particularly valuable. It is one of the earliest shrubs to flower in spring, its bright yellow foliage is attractive all summer and even now it is steadfastly holding onto its leaves. It will be bare just in time for the new crop of tiny white flowers to clothe its darkened skeleton.