The Winter Landscape

Snow on a pine tree.

Winter – a time of limited color, a time when the garden is totally uninteresting. Or is it? True, most of the annuals and perennials have disappeared, or aren’t putting on much of a show. But look around your neighborhood and see what grabs your attention at this time of year!

The most obvious are the coniferous evergreens. Spruces, pines, junipers, etc. – most are green but some can be gold, “blue”, or even russet in color. The various colors and textures add interest to the landscape year-round. And look at the forms! Columnar, pyramidal, rounded, flat – there is a shape and size for any space where your yard lacks winter interest.

Broad-leafed evergreens – such as Aucuba, hollies, Pieris, and Rhododendrons – bring a different texture to the landscape. Some have colorful leaves, and many of these will also brighten the other seasons with brightly colored flowers.

Many deciduous trees and shrubs are more noticeable in winter, too. Twig dogwoods (Cornus varieties) are standouts in the winter landscape. Having lost their leaves, their colorful red or yellow stems are a beacon against the green of evergreens and the glistening white snow. (They are useful in arrangements, too!) The berries of winterberry hollies (Ilex verticillata), Cotoneasters, chokeberry (Aronia sp), bayberry (Myrica), Pyracantha, and Viburnums are very showy, and they offer food for the birds, too.

Last, but not least, are the fall and winter-flowering Witch Hazels (Hamamelis sp). It always surprises me to see a large shrub/small tree covered in yellow flowers in the winter! These show up best in front of evergreens.

So, make time to walk or drive your neighborhood, or visit a public garden, such as Hershey Gardens or Longwood Gardens. You might get some new ideas to make your own winter landscape more interesting!