Gardens get the most love in warm months. In winter, many of us hunker down and stay inside. We experience our gardens less in December through March. Still, during the deepest freeze, we gaze at our gardens through our windows. Folks who love being outdoors suit up and head out regardless of the weather. Our gardens greet us when we arrive home from work in winter, just as they do when they are greener and the temperatures are warm.
For those reasons, consider ramping up the winter interest of your gardens and yard. It’s peaceful and visually stimulating to experience plants in their winter form. There are a many ways to do this.
Planting trees and shrubs with interesting bark or interesting form provides nice contrast to the white of snow or the gray sky. Barks can be colorful, patched or exfoliating.
Colorful bark? Think of the way the pale and multi-toned sycamore bark of that regal tree captures the spotlight in wooded settings.
Exfoliating bark refers to a shedding or peeling quality. (It sounds gross but it’s lovely!) Weeping or twisting shrubs and small trees create wonderful patterns that change as they hold snow or darken in rain. Two of my favorite examples of this concept are Acer griseum or ‘Paperbark Maple” and Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’ or Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick. There are a slew of plants that rock the winter garden.
You can also add structure and function to you winter garden by leaving perennial foliage up for the winter. This is the winter interest option that I’ve exercised most in my garden. The standing foliage supports fluffy snow. Foliage color – though muted compared to spring – is ever present. My perennials sport gray-blue, yellow, and browns, though out the winter. The function I mention? Allowing plant structures and seed heads to stay put in the garden provides food and shelter for wildlife. Yes, biodiversity!
Below are some images of the winter interest I found in my garden today.
All of the large snow images are mine.
Thanks for body copy photos to http://www.flickr.com/photos/cello8/ for the Henry Lauder walking stick photo
Thanks to http://www.flickr.com/photos/littlegemtrees/ for the camellia image!