Plant This Fall for a Magical Winter Landscape

By Kerry Ann Mendez

Creating enchanting winter landscapes should be a priority for those of us living in Maine year-round. We have the choice of looking out at bleak landscapes for five or more months, or ones that are packed with interest and color. Orchestrating winter-themed focal points is a lot easier than designing a multi-season garden, plus there is no routine maintenance involved.

When considering where to add elements of winter interest, the front landscape would be a priority. It is front and center for both you and those admiring your home from the road. Next would come the side and back yards and especially areas that are seen from the most commonly used rooms in the winter.

Below are some tips for creating a winter wonderland.

Interesting Bark

Certain trees and shrubs can provide year-round interest even without any foliage thanks to their bark. Some examples include River Birch 'Heritage', Paper Birch and Heptacodium.

Winter Stems

Several shrubs will add a punch of striking color in the winter thanks to their colorful stems. These include Red and Yellow Twig Dogwoods (some varieties even have multiple colors on each stem, including orange) and Willows such as 'Hakuro Nishiki'.

Berries for Color and Birds

Berries will not only add color and interest to your garden, they will also act as a food source that will attract birds. Some varieties that will bear winter berries include evergreen and deciduous Holly, Crabapples with persistent fruit, Hawthorn and some Viburnum such as 'Blue Muffin'.

Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental Grasses will make a sensational statement in the winter landscape, especially when backlit by the sun. Choose from Panicum, Miscanthus, Pennisetum, Feather Reed Grass and many more.

Unusual Branching Forms

Many trees have an unusual brancing form that will strike a dramatic silhouette across the winter sky. These include Japanese Maples (especially weeping threadleaf varieties) and weeping trees such as Cherries and Crabapples.

Dormant Perennials with Dried Flowers and Seedheads

Don't forget about perennials too! Although perennials will go dormant in winter, many still provide wonderful dried flowers or seedheads. Some of my favorites are Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia), Coneflower, Sea Holly and many Ornamental Grasses

Garden Structures and Decorations

Plants are justifiably the centerpieces of a garden during the growing season, but winter can allow for your garden statues, containers, sculptures, bird baths and houses, fences and gates, pergolas and arbors to take center stage. You'll find a terrific selection at Estabrook's.


Last but not least, evergreens will provide a dose of vitality all winter long and remind us that even though winter can be long in Maine, another season of green garden growth is always right around the corner.