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Welcoming Winter Interest to Your Landscape

Ah, winter – the season when most of us gardeners lament the lack of vibrant colors and lush foliage in our outdoor oases. But have you ever stopped to consider that this time of year might just be the perfect opportunity to showcase the true stars of your landscape? That’s right, my fellow green thumbs – it’s time to embrace the beauty of winter and learn how to create a landscape that shines even in the coldest, grayest months.

Unmasking the Hidden Gems

As I recently discovered when walking through a new client’s garden, the winter months can actually be the perfect time to truly appreciate the structure and bones of your landscape. With so many plants in a dormant state, it’s much easier to focus on the underlying elements that often get overshadowed by the showy blooms and lush leaves of spring and summer.

Take, for example, the stunning display of color that can be found in the bare stems and bark of certain plants. One of my personal favorites is the Japanese Maple ‘Sango Kaku’, whose brilliant red stems seem to glow even on the gloomiest of winter days. As I mentioned in Part 2 of my “Creating Winter Interest in the Garden” series, the more sun this tree receives, the more vibrant the color. It’s like nature’s own personal light show, and I can’t help but be mesmerized by it every time I catch a glimpse.

And it’s not just the Japanese Maple that can provide a pop of color in the winter landscape. Our native Manzanita shrubs, with their smooth, red bark, are another standout. Especially the more mature specimens, which seem to radiate a warm glow when placed in full sun. I’ve seen them lighting up the chilly gray skies of Seattle, and let me tell you, it’s a sight to behold.

Uncovering Texture and Contrast

When it comes to creating visual interest in the winter garden, texture is key. And let me tell you, there’s no shortage of that when the foliage and flowers are gone. Tree bark, in particular, becomes a true star of the show, providing a stunning contrast against the seemingly endless sea of snow.

Take, for instance, the Paperbark Maple (Acer griseum) – its cinnamon-colored, peeling bark is a true sight to behold, rivaling even the most vibrant fall foliage. Or how about the bright white trunks of birch trees, positively glowing when backlit by the evergreen shrubs that surround them? It’s like nature’s own version of abstract art, and I can’t help but pause and admire it every time I catch a glimpse.

And let’s not forget the textural interest that can be found in the humble subshrub. These plants, which possess traits of both woody and herbaceous species, often hunker down into a tight, low-growing mound during the winter months. But don’t let their unassuming appearance fool you – when lightly dusted with frost, they can transform into true sculptural masterpieces. From the fuzzy gray-green foliage of catmint to the architectural stems of hardy geraniums, these winter warriors add a sense of whimsy and intrigue to the landscape.

Embracing the Unexpected

But it’s not just the structural elements that can bring life to the winter garden – there’s also the unexpected burst of color and fragrance that can catch you by surprise. Take the humble Nandina, for example. While it may seem unassuming during the warmer months, come winter, its foliage transforms into a fiery display of reds and oranges that simply can’t be ignored. I have a particular variety called ‘Fire Power’ that stops passersby in their tracks every time they catch a glimpse of it.

And then there’s the coppery-mauve tones of the Japanese Cedar ‘Elegans Compacta’ – a dwarf variety that I’ve fallen head over heels for. Sadly, the hot and dry summers of my Pacific Northwest climate mean this beauty wouldn’t be a good fit for my garden, but oh, how I wish I could find a way to make it work.

Of course, let’s not forget the winter-blooming wonders that can add a touch of fragrance to the chilly air. The vibrant yellow flowers of Mahonia ‘Arthur Menzies’, with their heavenly scent, are a personal favorite, as are the delicate, lightly scented blooms of my Viburnum ‘Spring Bouquet’. And for those of you who are lucky enough to live in colder climates, the intoxicating fragrance of Witch Hazels and Wintersweet can truly transport you to a different world.

Embracing the Unexpected

As I’ve discovered, the key to creating a truly captivating winter landscape is to embrace the unexpected. Sure, you could stick to the tried-and-true evergreens and bare branches, but where’s the fun in that? Instead, I encourage you to explore the wide world of plants that offer up a little something extra during the colder months.

Take, for example, the humble blueberry shrub. While it may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of winter interest, its vibrant red foliage can be a real showstopper. And don’t forget about the crabapple – a small deciduous tree that not only provides a burst of dark red berries for the hungry birds, but also adds a touch of architectural interest with its bare, twisting branches.

Of course, as I mentioned in my previous articles, you can’t forget about the winter-blooming wonders like Witch Hazel and Wintersweet. These fragrant beauties can truly transform your landscape, filling the air with their intoxicating scent and adding a touch of whimsy to even the gloomiest of winter days.

Discovering the Delights of Winter

But perhaps the best way to discover the true delights of the winter landscape is to simply get out there and explore. Whether it’s a visit to your local botanical garden or a stroll through a nearby public park, there’s so much to be discovered when you take the time to really look.

Just the other day, I had the pleasure of visiting the Kubota Garden in Seattle, and let me tell you, it was a revelation. The stark, sculptural forms of the Japanese maples and the vibrant red stems of the dogwoods had me captivated from the moment I set foot in the garden. And the added bonus of the delicate, lightly scented Witch Hazel blooms? Well, that just made the experience all the more magical.

So, my fellow gardeners, I urge you to embrace the beauty of winter and let your landscape shine. Whether it’s a vibrant display of color, a feast for the senses, or a true feast for the eyes, there’s so much to discover when you take the time to really look. And who knows, you might just find that this is the season when your garden truly comes to life.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think it’s time for me to head out and see what other winter wonders my local gardens have to offer. Happy gardening, my friends!

Today’s Garden is Garden and Landscape Company, provides all you need about Garden and Landscape Design to get better garden decorations.

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