There are plants that are principally known for their Winter show and largely non descript at other times. The plant can often be decidious and the flowers or berries borne on bare stems. These plants may have foliage throughout the year but this is not what they’re recognised for.
Hamamelis mollis ‘Pallida’ (Chinese Witch Hazel) bears fragrant Yellow flowers early in the year. It loses its leaves and the flowers are borne on bare stems. This is a very low maintenance plant, pruning would purely be to shape.
Hamamelis x Intermedia is a similiar Witch Hazel but a hybrid often offering Orange or Red flowers in the Wintertime. ‘Diane’ (Red) and Orange ‘Orange beauty’ or ‘Gingerbread’. The size of these shrubs often determines where they are planted. The back of a border is ideal. The shrub is slow growing and doesn’t require any maintenance. Hamamellis can cope in full sun or dappled shade.
Chimonathus praecox (Wintersweet) can offer highly scented flowers in late Winter into the new year. This plant is decidious and there is no foliage in the flowering period. It needs some protection and can not tolerate being in an exposed area. It likes full sun and well drained soil. No real maintenance other than removing dead, diseased and damaged stems.
Callicarpa bodinieri flowers in midsummer but has an amazing show of purple berries in Autumn. Borne on bare stems, the berries continue long after the leaves are lost. It is quite robust despite having delicate characteristics and can cope in an exposed environment. This plant can tolerate most soils and is straightfoward to maintain. A superficial prune in Spring is all.
The (flowering quince) Chanomeles speciosa might not be an obvious choice but provides, fruit, foliage and flowers throughout the year. The flowers can range from a deep pink to a white. The plant is hardy and very easy to maintain. The only drawback is that the flowers are so shortlived. Little pruning is needed other structural shaping in the dormant period.
Daphne Odora ‘Aureomarginata’ while not Winter flowering, this decidious or evergreen shrub has attractive leaves and flowers in early Spring. The plant is flexible on the level of sun it needs but does need to be in a sheltered position.