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Winter Interest

Winter isn't everyone's favorite season, especially for a gardener. It's time to accept that our annuals are done, and the perennials, shrubs, and trees have lost their flowers and foliage and have gone dormant. If you look closely, you can see that some of the plant material is still catching your eyes and that is what we call winter interest. Here are some of the features that describe what to look for during the cold season.

Evergreen foliage - Not everyone goes dormant! Winter is a great time to pay attention to those conifers and they look be autiful covered with snow. Common evergreens include: spruce, pine, boxwood, holly, juniper, hemlock, yew, and false cypress. Some perennials hold on to their foliage like helleborus, bergenia, iberis, and creeping phlox.

Blue Spruce Canadian Hemlock False Cypress

Holly Yew


Berries/Cones - There are several trees and shrubs that hold fruit all winter. Winterberry holly sheds its foliage leaving behind a brilliant display of colorful berries. Evergreen hollies, yews, and junipers also have colorful berries. Check out your spruces, pines, and hemlocks for interesting cones!

Contorted/Colored Stems and Twigs - These are the trees and shrubs we want to see with no leaves! Branching that twists and contorts are always a stand-out in the gardens. Some examples of plants with contorted branches are the corkscrew willow, Harry Lauder's walking stick, and 'Zydeco Twist' black gum. Colored branches like on the red twig dogwood, make an impact in the snow and is very eye-catching.

River Birch Red Twig Dogwood Sevon Son Flower Tree

Blue Star Juniper Yucca

Maiden Grass

Exfoliating/Colored Bark - Once again, the leaves drop and show off what's underneath! Bark that peels creates an interesting texture and usually uncovers a new color. For exfoliating bark, check out paperbark maples, river birch, sevon-son flower, and even climbing hydrangeas! Some trees that feature colorful bark include coral bark maples, Japanese stewartia, and white birch.

Ornamental Grasses - An excellent source of color and texture for winter with the bonus of providing food and shelter for wildlife. Ornamental grasses come in many shapes and sizes from several different species and they all look good left up in winter. It is not recommended to cut grasses down until spring when new growth starts appearing.