Tuesday, January 5, 2016
How to Add Winter Interest
In the short winter days that leave Boise with a flat grey sky promising snow, the landscape often appears bleak and desolate. If this gets you down, consider the following options for adding color and visual interest to those dreary winter days. While a bit less showy in the peak of the growing season, these plants possess unique characteristics such as berries, bark, or winter flowers that stand out against the grey of winter.
Try Ilex verticillata ‘Spriber’ (Berry Nice Winterberry Holly, a 7’h x 4’w deciduous shrub that features bright red berries through the fall and winter), or Viburnum prunifolia (Blackhaw Viburnum, a 12’h x 8’w deciduous shrub that holds blue-black berries and attracts wildlife), or Symphoricarpos ‘Bokrabright’ (Bright FantasySnowberry, pictured above, is a 4’ x 4’ deciduous shrub with showy white berries that carry through the winter).
Colorful bark like Cornus sericea (Red Osier Dogwood, a 7’h x 12’w deciduous shrub with bright red stems), or Betula nigra ‘BNMTF’ (DuraHeat River Birch, pictured above, is a 40’h x 20’w deciduous tree with exfoliating pinkish-orange winter bark) add color and interest to a drab winter landscape.
There are even flowers that bloom in winter like Hamamelis mollis ‘Pallida’ (Pallida Chinese Witch Hazel, s 15’ x 15’ fragrant shrub of yellow flowers with red cups that appear in the winter on otherwise bare branches).
Evergreens also add color and form that stays consistent through the change of seasons like Picea pungens ‘Hoopsii’, (Hoop’s Blue Spruce, pictured above, is a 30’h x 15’w spruce tree with a blue hue), Tsuga canadensis (Canadian Hemlock, a 40’h x 25’w confier that adds green and pyramidal year-round interest), Iberis sempervirens (Evergreen Candytuft, a 6”h x 1’w evergreen groundcover with green foliage that blooms with white flowers in early spring), or Aucuba japonica ‘Serratifolia’ (Sawtoothed Aucuba, a 4’h x 6’w evergreen shrub with dark green, glossy foliage that produces red berries in the fall).
Utilizing form and texture through bark, branching and ornamental grasses is an additional way to make your garden more exciting in the winter months.
Branching plants like Rhus Typhina ‘Laciniata’ (Laceleaf StaghornSumac, a 10’ x 10’ upright, multi-stemmed form adorned with red buds), Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’ (Contorted filbert, pictured above, is a 10’ x 10’ twisted branching form with yellow catkins that add color to the winter landscape), or Salix matsudana ‘Tortuosa’ (Corkscrew Willow, a 30’h x 20’w contorted deciduous tree with year-round interest that attracts butterflies) become artwork in the landscape.
Ornamental grasses like Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ (Black Mondo Grass, a 1’ x 1’ purple-black grass that adds a stark contrast to the garden), Miscanthus sinensis ‘Adagio’ (Adagio Maiden Grass, a 5’h x 3’w grass that turns golden in the winter months), or Helictotrichon sempervirens (BlueOat Grass, a 3’h x 2’w evergreen grass with a blue-silver hue) add texture and color to the winter garden.
Consider adding boulders and garden art to create ongoing visual interest. Art may include sculptures or bird feeders/baths that have the added advantage of attracting wildlife.