Winter landscapes are often depressing. They are pure white when there’s snow on the ground and rather gray when there’s no snow. You can change that and actually add excitement to your winter landscape.
If you want to get right into making your drab winter landscape more welcoming, invest in some colorful hardscapes and accessories. They don’t have to be fancy. Colorful Adirondack chairs can make a bold statement. A photo of a snow-filled yard with snow-covered conifers in the background and a single, red Adirondack chair in the middle of the yard was one of the inspirations for writing this piece.
The other inspiration was sharing with you some of the plants that provide color and textural delight the year round. Ornamental grasses are the workhorses of winter interest plants but they’re over used. Since the planting season is finished, however, you’ll have to be content with ornamental grass or colorful Adirondack chairs this winter. Then add more plants with year round interest this spring.
Consider expanding your deciduous trees to vary the bark texture. Supplement those already in your yard with trees with other types of bark. If you now have a mixture of smooth and furrowed bark, add something with exfoliating bark like river birch or shagbark hickory. My favorite is paperbark maple (Acer griseum). Some trees and shrubs also have different color bark. Red twig dogwood is an example, as is barberry shrubs with their deep red bark.
Evergreens also provide year round color, and it doesn’t have to be green, either. The leaves on some broadleaf evergreens turn color as their metabolism slows for the winter. For example, I’ve seen PJM rhododendron leaves decrease in size and turn a dark burgundy color in winter.
Witch hazel flowers remain on the branches into winter, as do some perennials like hellebores and dianthus.
Finally, there are the trees and shrubs that display berries in winter. The most common is holly. Remember, though, that you need both a male and female holly to produce berries. One holly species is actually called winter berry. Its botanical name is Ilex verticullata. Unlike the more common hollies, winter berry is deciduous so the berries will really stand out in winter. Cranberry bush viburnum (Viburnum trilobum) berries often persist through the winter, too.
The leafless trees and shrubs and the variable weather this winter will give you time to consider the plants that will best add winter interest to your yard and exactly where they should go. If you would like help with the design, call our offices for the professional help our designers can provide. By using winter wisely to decide on how to freshen your year round landscape, we can also procure and plant your selections early in the spring so they can become well established through the spring, summer and fall. Then, next winter, you can look out your windows and see a landscape as beautiful as it is the other three seasons.