Magical Winter Landscapes

By Kerry Ann Mendez

Let's face it - winters can be long in Maine, especially for gardeners. To help combat the winter blues, we recommend creating attention-grabbing winter plant combinations, both in the front landscape as well as in the sightlines of commonly used rooms.

Trees and shrubs with striking winter bark or captivating branching habits are great choices as "winter accessories". Here are a few of our favorite doldrum busters:

Red and Yellow Twig Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea)

There are many dazzling varieties in this family. Foliage can be green, golden-yellow, or variegated. Most cultivars have solid red or yellow stems for winter interest, but 'Midwinter Fire' has glowing yellow stems tipped in coral red.

Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)

This native, deciduous shrub boasts striking berries that shine in the winter landscape. Berries can range in color from gold, orange or red. Some red berried selections to keep an eye out for are 'Winter Red', 'Wildfire' and 'Red Sprite'. Winterberry is a wonderful choice for holiday-themed containers near front entranceways as well as the landscape. Remember, that regardless of the "berried lady" that you fall in love with, all hollies (evergreen or deciduous) need the "matching" male to produce berries. 'Jim Dandy' is a male suitor for many female Winterberries.

Harry Lauder's Walking Stick (Corylus avellana)

'Red Dragon' is our pick over the more commonly sold variety that has dull green leaves. 'Red Dragon' still has the funky twisted stems that look magical covered with snow BUT its vibrant burgundy-red spring into summer foliage that turns yellow-gold in fall that provides far more interest!

Paperbark Maple (Acer griseum)

This is a perfect specimen for smaller landscapes. It has a neat, oval habit with slender upright branching. Its green leaves turn a fine red-orange color in fall. The real eye-candy is the papery sheets of bark that peel to reveal cinnamon-brown new bark.

Willow (Salix)

Many willows have brilliant red or yellow stem color in winter. 'Flaming' and 'Hakura Nishiki' are quickly snapped up during the growing season due to their highly attractive green, white and pink foliage, but their winter stem color is just as appealing.

Hawthorne (Crataegus)

'Winter King' is a spectacular four season tree. It has lovely white flowers in spring, red fruit that persists into winter, and peeling silvery-gray bark that reveals cinnamon colored bark beneath. 'Winter King's beautiful vase-shaped habit with horizontal branching is an asset to any winter landscape.