It’s a fact that most gardeners are guilty of designing their garden with spring, summer or fall in mind and put very little emphasis on what their garden will look like in the winter. In some respects, this is a significant oversight as winter is the time of year that we longingly look at our yards for any sign of life and with the hope that spring is on the way. The good news is that it is possible to enhance a landscape to add winter interest as well and it doesn’t have to be limited to plant material.
When considering plants for winter interest most people think of evergreen trees and shrubs. These plants are an important part of a landscape regardless of what time of year it is and often involve a long-term investment. Whether you live in a Northern climate where snow and ice are companions all winter long or the Southern part of the country where it rarely if ever snows in the winter there are evergreens you can use in your landscape. In Northern climates, Spruces and Pines offer needles that are blue, green and even yellow which offer a pretty contrast to the white snow. Plants such as Camellias and Magnolias offer Southern Gardeners the dual benefit of glossy green leaves all year round and blossoms that bring much-needed color during the winter.
While evergreens are a good starting point there are other plants to consider adding to your landscape for other than their leaves. Bark is another way to make your winter landscape stand out. Trees such as Birches and Cedars with their peeling bark are good choices and the twisted branches of the Walking Stick tree are really unique. If you have damp areas in your yard than try shrubs such as the red twig or yellow twig dogwood which have real impact with or without snow on the ground.
Berries and even flowers can offer another way to make your winter landscape more memorable. Holly is the quintessential berry-bearing shrub but Pyracantha also known as Firethorn can make a dramatic statement too. Viburnum and Coral Berry Cotoneaster are also good choices and all of these plants help to feed our feather friends during the winter too. Don’t forget that even in the winter you can find flowers to brighten your landscape. Witch Hazel with its flowers in shades of yellow, red and orange and Hellebores bloom in Northern areas of the country during the winter and if you live in the South Pansies and Snapdragons will thrive in the cooler temperatures during this time of year.
Lastly, don’t think that plants are the only way to make your winter landscape more interesting. Wood fences and brick walls add a good backdrop for your plants and brightly colored containers, benches, arbors and lattice can add much-needed color to your yard. Garden art including statues are also another way to add a little pop to your landscape but make sure they can withstand the colder temperatures.
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