Our December outdoor plant collection

It's finally December and the year is coming to a close. The days are shorter and the air is cool and crisp, and the countdown to Christmas has begun! Although it's cold outside and the winter garden appears to be a work in progress, there are still many jobs to keep you busy in your garden in preparation for the sunnier seasons ahead.

In this month's collection, we have chosen hardy perennials that require minimal winter protection. Many have evergreen foliage that lasts through the bleak winter months, holding your garden together until spring returns with her eruption of new growth and beautiful colour. Plants such as Sedum sediforme 'Gold', Heuchera 'Berry Smoothie', Heuchera 'Melting Fire', Stipa arundinaceae and Veronica 'Georgia Blue' will add a touch of colour and interest to your winter garden with their coloured foliage in shades of purple, deep green, copper and golden bronze.

AGAPANTHUS umbellatus Blue Umbrella

Agapanthus 'Blue Umbrella' is a truly majestic evergreen perennial, which produces large round umbels of pale blue blooms on top of long, slender stems from mid-summer to mid-autumn, adding an architectural structure to your borders. Your Agapanthus will be happy in a sunny spot with fertile, well-drained soil. For container planting, use a rich compost such as John Innes No.3. These plants are frost hardy down to -5C, but may need some winter protection.


BERGENIA cordifolia Shoeshine Rose

Bergenias are incredibly hardy plants with thick leathery green leaves that turn a gorgeous bronze colour during the winter. In mid-spring, beautiful rose coloured flowers emerge through the dark, glossy foliage which are attractive to pollinators such a butterflies. They tolerate full sun or partial shade and are happy in most soil conditions.


CENTRANTHUS ruber coccineus

This gorgeous European wildflower is incredibly tough and is easy to look after - thriving on minimal care. It blooms profusely throughout spring - autumn, and provides ample nectar to butterflies which are highly attracted to this plant. They prefer growing in a sunny, dry location (such as a rock garden) and require little water. Their long slender stems finished with fluffy fragrant heads of cherry flowers make great cut flowers too, or you can leave them to self-seed where they grow.


CYCLAMEN coum x Pink

Cyclamen coum are loved for their delicate, butterfly-shaped pink flowers which bloom in the heart of winter, putting some colour into your garden when your summer blooms will have fallen back. They can be planted into beds, under trees and also in patio pots in shaded/part-shaded areas in well-drained soil. After planting, Cyclamen coum can pretty much take care of itself, requiring little water (rainfall is usually sufficient) and an annual feed with bulb fertiliser might be helpful if grown in pots.


DIANTHUS Dinetta Soft Pink

These lovely little Dianthus will produce soft pink, double flowers in late spring through to autumn, and regular deadheading will encourage more blooms. They are hardy perennials and their linear evergreen leaves will persist throughout the winter months. They thrive in rich, well-drained soil in full sun and are perfect for containers, gravel gardens, or for edging beds and borders.


DIGITALIS mertonensis Summer King

Named 'Summer King' for its stunning strawberry-rose tinted flowers which rise above a rosette of semi-evergreen leaves on tall spikes during the summer months. This eye-catching beauty is another RHS award winner, it's very reliable and grows well in shaded/part-shaded areas with well-drained soil. It's more perennial than the (biennial) common foxgloves, usually lasting 2-4 years. Highly toxic if ingested.


ERYSIMUM hybridum Canaries Yellow

These wonderful wallflowers are a compact plant that produce vivid yellow, fragrant blooms in early spring and summer. They are short lived perennials, often grown as biennials and are happiest in free-draining fertile soil, in full sun to partial shade. They are pretty hardy and drought tolerant, but young plants may need to be mulched in winter to protect from frost.


EUPHORBIA x martinii Ascot Rainbow

Grown for its unique evergreen variegated foliage in shades of lime green and creamy yellow, which changes to hues of soft pink, red and burnt orange in cooler temperatures when mature. It'll add ornamental interest to any planting scheme, in your borders or winter containers. It requires well-drained soil to thrive and is drought and heat tolerant. It will be happy in full sun or partial shade. Highly toxic if ingested.


HEUCHERA Berry Smoothie

This gorgeous Heuchera will add colour and contrast to your pots, beds and borders with its rose-pink lobed leaves, turning a shade of berry red by the end of summer. They are happiest in dappled shade with filtered light in most soil types. Their foliage is the main attraction, however they do produce small creamy flowers during the summer months which is always a delight to see.


HEUCHERA Melting Fire

Another lovely Heuchera to bring colour to your winter garden. The 'Melting Fire' variety has lobed leaves with ruffled edges and produces bell-shaped creamy flowers in spring and summer. A great plant for shaded areas of the garden, in the borders, along pathways or in containers. Heucheras will maintain their foliage throughout the winter. Mulching around the plant can help prevent root-heaving in freezing weather.


LAVANDULA angustifolia Silver Mist

With its ghostly white appearance, 'Silver Mist' is the most silver of any Lavender. It's a fragrant, evergreen shrub which is perfect for edging borders or pathways in herb gardens, rock gardens or planted in containers. It flowers slightly later than most varieties and its gorgeous lavender blooms are great for attracting pollinators. It will thrive in full sun, in drier, well-drained soils. It's reasonably winter hardy, however may need winter protection in colder regions. Prune lightly in early spring if required.


LITHODORA diffusa Grace Ward

A worthy recipient of the RHS 'Award of Garden Merit', this plant is a vigorous, evergreen trailing shrub which produces gorgeous blue star-shaped flowers in spring - summer. It thrives in well-drained soils and is perfect for rock gardens, containers or as ground cover in beds and borders. It can withstand full sun to partial shade, but is also happy in shaded areas, particularly in the hotter months. It can be trimmed back after flowering and mulched in winter to provide frost protection.


LOBELIA cardinalis Queen Victoria

Another winner of the RHS 'Award of Garden Merit', Lobelia cardinalis 'Queen Victoria' is a tall, striking plant with vibrant scarlet flowers and dark burgundy foliage, which will add height and architectural interest to your garden. Its stems can grow as tall as 90-120cm and it blooms from midsummer to early fall. This plant loves boggy, moist soils in full sun to part shade. In drier soils, plant in partial shade. Expect die back in winter and provide some dry mulch around the root zone for protection.


PENSTEMON digitalis Huskers Red

Award-winning Penstemon 'Huskers Red' is a clump-forming, herbaceous perennial with deep maroon-red stems bearing delicate white tubular flowers with a touch of pale pink. This Penstemon can reach up to heights of 90cm and adds a wonderful vertical interest to your garden borders. They grow best in full sun, in dry to slightly moist soils - it is fairly drought tolerant when mature and dislikes damp soils, so requires excellent drainage. They are pretty hardy but may need winter protection in cold areas.


POLEMONIUM caeruleum

A beautiful clump-forming perennial with green fern-like leaves and tall stems adorned with deep blue flowers and vivid yellow stamens. Flowering occurs in spring through to summer if regularly deadheaded. This plant likes consistently moist, free draining soil in moderate sun to partial shade, and is perfect for beds and borders, in rock gardens, cottage gardens, woodland gardens and container planting. They are native to cold regions so require little winter protection.


SAXIFRAGA x arendsii Alpino Early Red

A pretty low-growing evergreen alpine perennial which produces deep-pink, star-shaped flowers with creamy centres. It's a very early variety which can flower in late winter - early spring. It's a perfect plant for dappled shade in a rock/alpine garden, beds, borders and pots. It likes moist, gritty soil which is very well-drained. A light mulching of sand after flowering can assist with drainage and prevent root rot.


SCABIOUS columbaria Pink Mist

'Pink Mist' is a compact, clump-forming perennial with long wiry stems finished with a beautiful soft lilac-pink pincushion-like flower. They have a long, continuous flowering period which begins in early summer and can continue until autumn, especially when regularly deadheaded. They thrive in full sun to partial shade, in well-drained soil. They are pretty tolerant to drought and don't do well in overly wet soils. They'll make an eye-catching display in any planting scheme.


SEDUM sediforme Gold

A gorgeously golden, evergreen perennial with fleshy succulent leaves and creamy-pale yellow flowers which appear in spring. This is an alpine plant which has a low-growing, trailing form and will thrive in gritty, well-drained soil with moderate sun exposure to light shade that has adequate air flow. It makes an ideal addition to a rock garden as well as in pots and containers. It can be cut back in autumn/winter after flowering or left for winter interest.


STIPA arundinacea

An RHS award-winning ornamental grass, that will add structure to your borders throughout the year with its dramatic swaying leaves. It's fast growing and super tough, with green, semi-evergreen foliage that turns a coppery-bronze tone in the late autumn and winter. It grows best in full sun to partial shade in most soil types. In early spring, rake out any dead winter leaves or cut back for a tidy look prior to new growth appearing. In summer you can expect to see purple feathery flowers which gives a misty, airy appearance to your garden landscape.


VERONICA peduncularis Georgia Blue

A creeping evergreen perennial with deep green foliage that changes to a bronzed hue as the temperature cools. Come spring time, it will produce an abundance of dainty sapphire-blue flowers which put on a sweet display, often lasting until late summer. This plant grows vigorously and is a great choice for groundcover on the edge of borders, in alpine and rock gardens, or as a semi-trailing plant in pots and containers. It'll grow best in full sun or partial shade with well-drained soil.



A selection of these beautiful plants will be included in all our outdoor subscription deliveries throughout December.

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