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Birds & Blooms Magazine

Who says winter gardening has to be dull and boring? Sure, we want plants that look good bare in the winter, but it’s also the time when color really counts. Plants are not the only thing that can add color to a garden, ornaments and structures play a big role, too.

Take a look and meet some of the plants and projects that can add a little wow to any winter garden:

  • Artful Architecture: In winter, architecture is what we’re after—plants with a shape that stands out, lending grace or drama. Japanese maple is a classic. With its signature domed crown, it’s handsome even when young, and it only gets better with age. While Japanese maples are elegant, another good option is Harry Lauder’s walking stick; this shrub is attractively strange, with its twisted, spiraled branches.
  • Precious Color: For wow power, go for winterberry which is often so thickly studded with berries that they shine like little beacons across the yard. Be sure to plant a male pollinator so you get fruit. You’ll find great cultivars like Berry Heavy Gold and Winter Gold, as well as red-berried Berry Nice, Winter Red, and shorter Little Goblin or Red Sprite.
  • Smaller Trees to Please: The bark of mature sycamores and Japanese stewartia is gorgeous, but if you don’t have decades to wait until they come into their own, try smaller trees. Imagine the gleaming mahogany-red bark of Himalayan birch or birchbark cherry in snow. White paperbark birch green-and-white striped maple or a spectacular coral-barked maple will light up the yard on a gray winter day.
  • Silver and Gold: Look for cultivars like Powis Castle, Silver Queen and their relatives as they stay ghostly all year. Other silvery perennials, such as lambs’ ears, perovskia, and lavenders, usually keep their color for months, too.
  • Winter Bouquet in Pots: If your containers can take harsh weather, give them a starring role. But skip planting—fake it instead with a beautiful bouquet of branches and berries. They’ll keep their color and look natural for months in the cold. Don’t forget to add winter color to your window boxes, too, instead of leaving them empty till spring.
  • The Personal Touch: Whether it’s a garden gnome, a grand urn or an adorable birdhouse, outdoor ornaments have more visual impact in winter. The same is true of bird feeders, benches, and the trellises and arches that held summer vines.


To see all the ways to add color to your garden, visit:  

Posted February 13, 2015


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