Visiting Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in winter allows you the chance to see the Garden in snow! Look at the graceful Darlington oak (Quercus hemisphaerica ‘Darlington’) covered in a magical layer of glittery snow. As soon as the paths are clear, we open up the Garden to visitors to explore the winter wonderland. Take a stroll in the peaceful woods, catching glimmers of nature’s hidden beauty: textured bark, vibrant red berries, birds seeking seeds. After your adventures outdoors, warm up in the tropical bloom-filled Conservatory.
Use our February Garden Explorer tour from your desktop or smartphone to plan your visit around these blooms! Check back for a link to this month’s Bright Spots (PDF) highlighting current blooms and interest.
During particularly warm winters like this year’s, you may find the hybrid hellebore, Helleborus x ericsmithii ‘Silvermoon’ blooming as early as February. Ours is planted in an area of the Central Garden that is somewhat protected from the harshest winds of winter. With buildings on three sides, it finds a bit of a microclimate in our North Terrace. Don’t miss this silvery beauty on your left as soon as you enter into the Garden.
We have several cultivars of Galanthus nivalis, but they all have one thing in common: beautiful white blooms edged in bright green, blooming when you need them most. You’ll find several patches of them in Flagler Garden.
Witch Hazel 'Diane'
The crinkly ruby red to copper ribbon-like blooms of Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’ offer subtly fragrant winter blooms. The pom pom fringe blooms appear before the foliage, as if to cheer on the coming of spring and new leaves. The fall foliage echoes the colors of the blooms in hues of red, orange and copper with yellow highlights. Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane is a cross between Chinese and Japanese varieties. Fittingly, you’ll find it in the Asian Valley.
Paperbush ‘Gold Rush’
Edgeworthia tomentosa ‘Gold Rush’ is a medium sized shrub with velvety silver and yellow pom-pom like flowers. At the tips of its branches you’ll find prominent buds, some beginning to open. The fragrance of paperbush in the cold winter air is memorable and will make you happy you came to see it. You’ll find Edgeworthia in many locations in the Garden. This variety, ‘Gold Rush,’ can be found in the Asian Valley and in Streb Conifer Garden.
Mahonia x media ‘Underway’ offers blooms in winter, but just as exquisite are the the spiky leaves covered in frost. Most of the year, these leaves are green, but in winter sometimes they take on a reddish hue. You’ll find different varieties of mahonia all over the garden, but this cultivar is in the Four Seasons portion of the Central Garden.
Parrotia persica is a small tree with smooth, peeling pinkish-brown to cinnamon colored bark. The form of the tree is wide-spreading with many horizontal branches. The ruby red buds and blooms are a welcome sight in February. You’ll find this beauty in the Asian Valley.
Japanese Flowering Apricot 'Josephine'
Prunus mume ‘Josephine’ features delicate, creamy white cup-like blooms. The fragrance of Prunus mume is memorable in the winter air. The specimens along the Cherry Tree Walk are relatively new to our collection, so look for them to have a bigger impact each year with more blooms as they grow.
Witch Hazel ‘Arnold Promise’
Witch Hazel, Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Arnold Promise,’ has yellow ribbon-like crinkly fringed flowers with ruby at the base. They have a subtle, but spicy scent. You’ll find several specimens of this beauty at our Garden including in Flagler Garden, in the Asian Valley and along the Cherry Tree Walk.
Crocus 'Cloth of Gold'
You will discover the lovely yellow and purple Crocus angustifolius ‘Cloth of Gold’ even in early February. Two great spots to view it are outside of the Robins Visitor Center, at the base of the espaliered southern magnolia, and in the Central Garden, just inside the entrance gates of the Garden near the Frog Fountain.
Red Passion Flower
Passiflora coccinea is a distant relative of our native purple passion flower (Passiflora incarnata). Sit on the bench in the West Wing of the Conservatory and let the vibrant tropical red blooms surround you.
The miniature orange-like fruit of × Citrofortunella microcarpa are beautiful to look at but sour to eat. Like a kumquat, the skin of the fruit is sweet. (Did you know you are supposed to eat the skin of the kumquat?) We bring this potted plant outside the Conservatory in summer, but in the winter it needs the warmth of the Conservatory and protection from frost. This citrus fruit is likely a cross between a mandarin and a kumquat. In bloom, this beauty has white fragrant flowers.
Silver Select (TM) European Fan Palm
Silver Select (TM) European Fan Palm or Chamaerops humilis var. cerifera features lovely silvery fronds that will make you feel like you are in a tropical paradise. Its graceful and prolific form will welcome you in the Dome House of the Conservatory.
Earth Star ‘Elaine’
The fabulous thing about this particular earth star, Cryptanthus fosterianus ‘Elaine,’ is that it turns pink in the shade! They are perfect terrarium species. Earth stars like shade, moisture and humidity. They are perfect office plants and tend to color up more under fluorescent lights.
Cryptanthus ‘Black Mystic’ makes for fabulous patterns in the Conservatory beds. The texture of the leaves seems almost zebra-like when viewed in person. These plants are in the bromeliad family, and like other bromeliads, they only bloom once in their lifetime. After they bloom, they will start producing pups from their leaf axis (where the leaf meets the stem).
Begonia ‘Marmaduke’ might remind you of your neighbor’s large dog, and we think it has as much personality. This spotted beauty features green and red leaves and delicate white blooms as well.
The Beefsteak Begonia is just starting to bloom, and the blooms will last most of February. Both the green leaf, brown stem and the pink bloom provide interest in our Conservatory East Wing display. All three have a wonderful velvety texture.