Winter is a season of stone grays, sere browns and creams, the blackish green of evergreen needles against a washed, white sky. Stripped to its essentials, the garden is both dramatic and self-sustaining.
We have some simple suggestions on how you can maintain a beautiful garden in winter!
SOUVENIRS OF SUMMER
A nice cleanup of the flower beds is a usual fall ritual. However, you should wait until spring to cut back sturdy perennials including sedum, false indigo, bee balm, and coneflowers. Their brown stalks add texture and height. Scotch broom and ornamental grasses will also hold their mounded shape in winter, they will stand tall and rustle evocatively in the wind.
THE FIRST FLOWERS
You miss seeing blooms? You can push the season with hellebores that have hanging cuplike flowers that range from deep maroons to whites. They are usually blooming first, even when there is snow. Witch hazel is a shrub that blooms early too, and has sweetly scented yellow flowers. Winter-blooming heaths, are another very welcomed plants ina rock garden or edging a snow-lined pathway.
Winter can become really grey and dark, and in this time, even tiny bits of color make a huge impact. For this reason, hollies and their berries are very popular. You can try a variegated variety like “Madame Briot”, or many other bushes and trees, including mountain ash, and Arbitus spp., that produce berries which help sustain birds. If you leave roses undeadheaded they will develop glossy hips. Hardy rugosa roses produce large and shiny hips that linger far into winter.
SNOW FALLING ON CONIFERS
Conifers add definition to the landscape, and winter is the time you should appreciate them mostly. Here are included: the sturdy grandeur of a Douglas fir with its branches reaching out like huge open arms; the tall and weeping deodar cedar; the umbrella pine that evokes Tuscany; or the Canadian hemlock, with its glossy and soft green needles. All of these will provide you with a whole other prominence against those grey skies.
ELEGANT BARK AND BRANCHES
Want to add some drama to a boring winter grey look? Plant trees with interesting bark. The peeling bark of birches such as Betula davuricaor ‘Jermyns,’ will brighten a dark corner or a dark day. Many varieties of maple, including Acer capillipes and A. griseum, have dramatically textured trunks. Parrotia persica sheds its bark in flakes, revealing a miniature terrain of green, brown, gray, and white.
HOW TO GET STARTED
We are in the season of fall. And now is the perfect time to start. As long as you have good 6 weeks before the first expected frost, you are good to get started. There is no reason to produce leaves, as trees and shrubs can put their full energy into their roots and give a sturdy spring growth. Also, many local nurseries have end-of-season sale. All of these will work with you to find plants that are suited for your hardiness zone, soil conditions, and amount of sunlight and shade. The best garden respect natural conditions without using chemical fertilizers or plenty of water in dry climates. Give your plants some basic care and they will thrive well!