Monday, January 6, 2020

Winter Plants for Visual Interest

We all know that springtime brings beautiful new growth. In many cases, buds soon become beautiful new blooms. Spring is surely a sight to behold. However, we forget about all the beautiful shrubs that add winter interest to our gardens and landscapes.
When most people think of winter shrubs, they automatically think about evergreens. However, many shrubs maintain their visual interest after they lose their leaves as well.
When choosing plants to include in your landscape, it is always a good idea to look ahead. Familiarize yourself with its hardiness to your zone, and its visual properties through the winter. Not every tree, shrub, or annual can be beautiful in the winter. You can find the perfect combination to provide cold season beauty.

Winterberry Hollies and Needlepoint Hollies

These hollies are such a gorgeous example of the beauty that winter has to offer. Their vibrant green foliage and bright red berries, they are the epitome of winter beauty. Winterberry hollies lose their leaves for the winter. However, the berries stay around until almost spring and provide a winter food source for the birds that overwinter here.

Red Twig Dogwood and Yellow Twig Dogwood

These shrubs are deciduous. They are noted for their bright fiery red, or golden yellow limbs after their leaves are gone. Their personality adds dramatic contrast to a very dreary winter backdrop.
Red Twig Dogwood and Yellow Twig Dogwood are spreading, suckering shrubs that grow 6 to 9 feet tall. In the spring they bloom with tiny, white, flat top flower clusters. This shrub is also known to attract birds and pollinators.

Corkscrew Willow
The visual interest created by these trees is most evident in the wintertime after they lose all of their foliage. The bark of the younger growth has a bright gold tone. Each branch twists and turns in random directions creating a contorted shape. They can create interest in a floral arrangement. This can be an aesthetically pleasing feature added to your yard or garden. However, as with most willows, they can grow quite large. Bear this in mind when you choose one for your landscape. These trees only have a life span of about 25 years.

Coral Bark Japanese Maple
These maples offer four seasons of interest. In the early spring, as the new foliage begins to unfurl, its bright palmate leaves emerge as bright, neon green. Then, as the season progresses, the foliage turns to a much deeper green through the summer. In the fall the foliage offers a vibrant mixture of oranges and yellows. As the color of fall winds down, and the foliage drops to the ground, the beautiful red bark is left exposed. When viewed against the grey backdrop of winter, it certainly becomes the star of the landscape.

Harry Lauder Walking Stick
This deciduous plant really shines in the winter. After all the foliage has fallen, its bare and the contorted limbs are exposed. Early spring showcases its beautiful yellow catkin type blooms. Each one growing to 2 to 3 inches long. Spring and winter are the times for this shrub to show off. Though this shrub is considered a hazelnut, it rarely produces nuts. When it does, it is in September or October, but most likely the squirrels will get them before you do.

Forever Goldie Thuja     Thuja is known for its hedge and privacy screen uses. But, some varieties, such as Forever Goldie are also ornamental. With their bright yellow color in the winter, how can you go wrong adding it to your landscape? During the spring, Goldie will surprise you with bright green new growth that quickly becomes a very vibrant yellow. Then, in the fall it becomes a beautiful golden yellow.
This shrub will definitely bring some cheer to the cold grey winter.

 Sasanqua variety Camellia

Camellias not only offer green foliage throughout the winter, but they also offer up some gorgeous blooms, yes, blooms- flowers in the winter. Sasanqua varieties bloom primarily in the fall and winter, while japonica varieties bloom in the winter-spring. With their green glossy foliage and cheerful winter blooms, you can't go wrong with a camellia

Helleborus  (Lenten Rose)

Helleborus is a low growing winter bloomer. It has dark green, leathery evergreen foliage. The blooms can be found in many different colors, from white to black with shades of pink, purple, yellow and green in between. In late winter it is good practice to cut back the old foliage just before the new growth emerges in the early fall.
These are well suited for hillsides and raised beds to fully enjoy their downward-facing blooms. The heat of summer will force the hellebore into dormancy. Fall and winter are when these beauties really shine.

While it is easy to automatically assume that conifers and evergreens are the way to go for winter interest, keep in mind that sometimes what lies under the leaves is more beautiful and interesting than what you see in the spring and summer. These are just a small representation of some of the beauty that winter has to offer.
Every plant on the earth has its own personality and beauty. Much like people, beauty isn't always in obvious places. Remember to look beyond the surface for the true wonderment of plants and people.

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