Bring color to your landscape 365 days a year! It is easy to focus on spring blooms, summer fruit and fall foliage- but what about winter interest? There are countless options to bring unique pops of color and interest to your landscape during the winter months. When planning your outdoor space it is important to consider incorporating evergreens, unique bark, persistent berries and movement to enhance your winter landscape.
Deciduous plants typically lose their leaves during winter months; however they still may offer colorful bark or persistent colorful fruit. For shrubs with unique bark consider ‘Red twig’ or ‘Yellow twig Dogwood’. Dwarf apple trees offer bright red-orange bark. ‘Winter King Hawthorn’ trees exhibit grey-green bark that peels revealing reddish-brown shades underneath. Another feature of the ‘Winter King Hawthorn’ is red berries which persist throughout winter. Some crabapples like the ‘Centurion’, also retain berries throughout winter. There are also several shrubs which display fruit during winter such as Holly, Barberry, Snowberry, Coralberry and Firethorn. Rose shrubs, such as the ‘Rugosa Rose’, while not true berries, exhibit reddish-orange hips through the winter.
Another wonderful option for winter interest is broadleaf evergreen shrubs. These shrubs have hardy leafy foliage, not needles, which persist through winter when planted in the proper environment. Examples of broadleaf evergreen shrubs include holly, yews, boxwoods, euonymous and yucca. Euonymus and Carol Mackie Daphne prefer shady spots with protection from winter winds to thrive. Evergreens, despite their name, can offer a variety of colors during the winter months. For example, ‘Winter Creeper Euonymus’ or ‘Blue Chip Junipers’ turn purple. Variegated boxwoods container green foliage with cream colored edges year round.
Yet another opportunity for winter interest can be diverse branch structures and shapes. Weeping varieties of crabapples, willows, peashrubs, and maples have unique shapes that naturally draw the eye no matter the time of year. Dense columnar shaped shrubs and trees can offer a unique shape, as well as year round coverage for privacy despite dropping their leaves. The ‘Fine Line Buckthorn’ is one of my favorites!
Grasses offer unique movement, coverage and interest year round. Many grasses turn a neutral tan during winter months, yet retain their unique seed feathers and plumes. These plumes offer continuous movement and protection until they are cut back in early spring.
As you plan your landscape this year, consider incorporating plants to provide interest year round. Look beyond evergreens and conifers for winter interest to create a diverse and beautiful landscape.
By David Olson