After the leaves have fallen from the trees, most people ignore their gardens until their bulbs begin to emerge in the spring. If planned well, a winter landscape can have a character all its own. Against the stark backdrop of snow and earth, you can plant a variety of plants that will add dimension to your garden.
When choosing trees and shrubs for your garden, consider their winter qualities such as berries, bark, shape and seedheads. Viburnums, for instance, are a wonderful shrub all year as they offer beautiful white flowers in the spring, lush green foliage in the summer, colorful foliage in the fall and berries during the winter.
You’ll also want to incorporate some evergreen trees or shrubs into your garden, as the greenery adds a nice contrast to the starkness of winter. Pine trees, cypress or juniper shrubs and even boxwood make nice choices. Variegated evergreens have foliage which is multi-colored. Euonymus leaves, for example, have a dark green outer edge with a yellow or white center.
Berries are a great way to add color to a garden in winter. There are quite a few shrubs, both evergreen and deciduous, which produce berries which are suitable for almost any garden.
A common berry producing plant is the holly. Most hollies have berries throughout the winter. Hollies vary greatly in size and shape. Some grow to the size of small tree sizes, while others are small shrubs which grow to only a few feet. Determine what you need for your garden a find one which will work best for you.
In autumn, after the leaves fall, some trees and shrubs call attention to their unique bark. Some have bark with interesting texture while others provide striking colors. An often overlooked feature in the garden, a plant’s bark is essential to the winter garden.
The heritage birch tree, for example, is a great tree for any garden and can grow to 60' tall and 40-60' wide. The texture of its grey and tan bark is striking with the outer bark peeling back in large patches. The river birch has wonderful fall foliage as well. The shag bark hickory is another wonderful which stands out in the winter landscape and. As the name suggests its bark peels away from the trunk giving the tree a shaggy look.
Seeds or seedpods can provide your garden with off-season color. A deciduous tree which provides winter interest is the golden-rain tree. This tree’s stunning yellow flowers turn into brown Japanese lantern-shaped seedpods in the winter. A shrub with wonderful winter qualities is the hydrangea. The large flowers form dried flower heads that benefit the winter landscape. Allow the last wave of blooms to dry naturally to pale pink or pale white.]
Ornamental grasses produce colorful seedheads in the late autumn that, if left standing through the winter, are beautiful as they sway in the wind. Instead of pruning them short in the fall, wait until the spring just before new growth begins and enjoy the dried stalks gleaming in the winter sun.
In the winter, a plant’s form becomes much more prominent. The shape is what adds to the beauty of the plant. Keep this in mind when you are doing any pruning. Another factor to consider is the basic structure of the tree. Try to create a certain level of symmetry in its shape.
Remember that walls and fences develop greater visual importance in winter as the vines and vegetation screening them lose their leaves. Also, hedges of boxwood or screens of cedar make a stronger statement in winter. While perennials, annuals and flowering shrubs are essential to a beautiful garden, take into consideration plants which have interesting character all year long.