When someone talks about gardens and gardening, most people automatically picture flower beds full of blossoms and trees covered in lush green leaves—things that occur primarily in the Spring and Summer. As November signals the tail end of the Fall season and the onset of Winter, can you still have this type of garden?
When you plan your garden and the subsequent backyard landscape design with Winter interest in mind, you can definitely create a garden that’s lush, colorful, and beautiful even in the middle of a bleak Winter.
Creating Winter Interest in the Garden
Though most of the leaves have fallen from your plants in Winter, it doesn’t mean you have to be left with a barren garden. On the contrary, the sprinkling of snow on well-branched trees and the hints of clustered red berries that stand out among all the white and gray help transform your yard into a postcard-worthy scene. To create a garden with Winter interest, make sure it has the following elements:
The Winter season is the best time to appreciate the varied forms of your plants. The dusting of sparkling snow accentuates the structure of a tree and its branches, as well as the conical and round shapes of evergreens.
But, while you might want to focus on evergreens as much as possible because of the color and familiarity they add, you may also want to utilize deciduous plants. There are trees and shrubs with unique branching habits, making them a standout without the help of leaves. Some of these include the shrub colloquially known as Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick, with its corkscrew-like branches, much like the walking stick of the 19th-century Scottish comedian it was named after.
This element is one of the hardest to achieve during the Winter, especially if you don’t know where to look or even what to look for. But in a landscape of white and gray, flashes of bright purples, reds, and yellows can be an uplifting sight.
Ornamental kale and cabbage plant varieties are popular during Winter for a reason. These plants grow much like the edible varieties of kale and cabbage, although the ornamental ones have been bred to bloom in bright purple and rosy colors. In full bloom, they look like large roses.
Holly and Winterberry bushes give your garden a quintessential Winter garden look, with their clusters of bright red berries peeking from snow-covered branches. For a starker fire-and-ice contrast, you can opt to plant the evergreen cotoneaster. Once its leaves and branches get fully covered by hoarfrost, the dazzling bright red pome fruits contrast beautifully against the icy branches they’re clinging to.
There’s also the red osier dogwood and many other dogwoods, which have green leaves in the Summer and white flowers in Spring. As Fall approaches, it loses its leaves, uncovering the long, woody stems’ rich and deep red color protruding from the ground and spreading outward. In the stark white, snowy background of Winter, this shrub can lend your garden a breathtaking accent.
The feel of the foliage might seem inconsequential, but if you want to create Winter interest, texture is key. When designing your garden using plant texture, you need to mix different textures while also creating balance. This means placing plants with different textures that highlight and complement without outshining the others.
Start by planting broadleaf evergreens like azaleas, inkberry, and Japanese boxwood. These add formal texture to your garden and provide a perfect background for other textures. Then, you can contrast these broadleaf evergreens with the sharpness of conifers.
Pine, fir, and juniper trees are some of the bigger examples. At the same time, you can add grasses, such as carex and Pennisetum, giving your garden a soft, whimsical texture.
When planning your garden design, especially for the Winter weather, the tendency is to jump straight to the plants without planning for the overall structure of the space. Greenery and structure should work together to achieve a harmonious look in your garden.
Add structural elements to your Winter garden by starting with actual manmade ones. Once the leaves start Falling, architectural structures such as gazebos, boulders, and benches transform into visual workhorses all throughout the season. Trellises and unique fences also make for attention-grabbing boundaries for your garden. These elements not only add structure, but they also act as decorative aspects, adding to your garden’s Winter interest.
Structure can also be created using the plants themselves. Perennials such as sea holly and coneflower have pronounced seed heads that look lovely even when they’re dusted in snow. Similarly, the flat tops of Sedum Autumn Joy blossoms, together with their upright stems make for a great plant structure in the middle of the Winter.
Design a Beautiful and Functional Winter Garden
Winter technically means that your garden is in hibernation for three to four months. However, by using perennials and knowing which garden design elements to use, you can keep your space lively and exciting.
Additionally, apart from the beauty that your Winter garden offers, it can also provide you with an array of materials to beautify your indoor spaces. You can trim those colorful branches, evergreen boughs, and spent flower heads from your garden and put them in vases or small planters for your interiors. During the holidays, there’s no reason not to deck your halls with hollies and berries since you have your own source right from your own garden.
Then, as Winter loosens its grip after a few months and slowly transitions to Spring, your garden will wake from its hibernation. Your perennials will start blooming with flowers once again, bathing your garden in a dazzling array of color—a stark contrast from the now-muddy ground that they’re growing from.
By incorporating all the above-mentioned elements into your Winter garden, the dormancy that is usually associated with the season turns into vibrancy. Then, you can admire the compelling beauty of your well-designed garden landscape long after the season ends.
Here at Landscapes Unlimited, we can help you start prepping your garden for the upcoming Winter. Our backyard design experts can assist you in creating a unique, inviting, and marketable outdoor landscape for your Winter garden dreams.
Contact Landscapes Unlimited at (651) 216-2883 today for more information.