Improving Your Winter Landscape

Does your winter garden picture lack a little something? Winter garden structure, whether provided by ornamental trees, shrubs, or structural perennials can both attractively block unsightly views and create new ones.

Use the following tips to identify those areas of your garden that are less than inspiring and then make a plan to improve them in the spring!

  1. Make a list of the most offensive views at different vantage points around the inside and outside of your home.
  2. Take a good look at your landscape; is there a favorite plant you would like to draw attention to?
  3. Are the entrances and exits to the house clearly defined by plants? An ornamental planting next to a main entrance says welcome, whereas a utility entrance can be down-played by a subdued planting.
  4. Are there great voids in your perennial garden that were once filled by foliage in the growing season? The introduction of a more structural plant that will combine well with perennials may be the answer.
  5. Is there any garden ornamentation or more importantly, too much of a good thing? Garden ornamentation can create a sense of movement, timelessness, or whimsy. In most cases, less is more.
  6. The addition of stone walls, patios, a dry stream bed, or even well placed edging can hugely impact the flow of a garden.

The following list of plants will provide added winter structure:

Boxwood - An excellent mixer in large perennial gardens, Boxwoods will provide evergreen structure to your garden.

Ornamental Maples - An elegant shape, fine branching, and numerous cultivars for a wide range of garden areas. 'Paper Bark', 'Viridis', 'Crimson Queen' and 'Red Dragon' make nice selections.

Junipers - Upright forms, some with contorted branches, lend themselves to almost any bright spot. Choose from 'Robusta', 'Emerald Sentinel' and 'Hetzi Columnaris'. Low forms also offer many foliage colors from gray to emerald green, and many variations in height. Look for 'Blueberry Delight', 'Sargent', and 'Parsons'.

Smokebush - Combine with grasses and large scale perennials and severely prune them to keep in scale with the perennial border. Popular varieties include 'Young Lady', 'Nordine' and 'Royal Purple'.

Dwarf Crabapples - From weeping forms to standards that resemble topiaries, these plants offer excellent branch structure and the addition of persistent winter fruit. Choose from 'Louisa', 'Tina', 'Firebird', or 'Coral Burst'

Artemisia - Gray leaves and structural stems combine with diverse foliage patterns and shapes provided by choice varieties like 'Valerie Finnis', 'Guizho' and 'Silver Mound'.

Tall Sedums - A great structural plant for the garden in summer as well as the winter thanks to its seed heads that are delightfully capped in snow. Look for 'Matrona', 'Autumn Fire', 'Autumn Joy', or 'Purple Emperor'.

Turtlehead - A lovely late blooming plant for the summer garden that offers excellent seed pods for winter viewing and naturalizes near water nicely. Favorite varieties include 'Alba' and 'Hot Lips'.