JANUARY 2012- ASK THE EXPERTSQ. I love conifers but are there other plants you can recommend that will add life to my winter landscape?
Conifers, such as spruce, fir, hemlock, pine and juniper are wonderful accents in the landscape that can add structure and create the framework for a garden. In addition to evergreens, there are many note-worthy trees and shrubs that you can consider adding to your garden for seasonal interest. Three characteristics that can really capture your attention in the winter garden are interesting bark, unusual structure or shape and persistent fruit.
Most deciduous trees and shrubs fade into the background once the leaves have dropped however, those with exfoliating, colorful or textural bark continue to be an interesting feature throughout the year. Examples of this can be found in small trees such as Birch with its delicate white peeling bark, Paperback Maple with its gingery peeling bark and Japanese Stewartia and Kousa Dogwood with their lovely beige, brown and white patterned trunks. Shrubs such as red twig and yellow twig dogwoods stand out because of the bright color of their stems and look brilliant against a snowy backdrop.
Unusual structure or bold shaped plants add textural interest. The contorted branches of Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick and Curly Willow are excellent additions to the garden. Ornamental grasses, Black-Eyed Susans and Coneflower that have not been trimmed back also add texture and interest. Colorful berries that persist long into winter can liven up the winter garden with bright color and be a great source of food for wildlife. Winterberry holly, Japanese hollies and Hawthornes are some of the best choices. Consider planting some of these selections for winter interest in front of evergreen plants. This will provide a great background and added visibility.