Color in the winter Garden

One of the most important factors that face a garden designer or planner in regions where winter is the cold season is that of providing color during the dull, drab periods that come between November and April. It doesn’t matter if the property is large or small, the selection and arrangement of suitable plant material to accomplish this result requires considerable thought, care, and of course study of the available species in relation to your particular climate or region.

Color in the winter GardenThe whole scheme of the planting should be considered with a view to producing a gentle, easy flowing color transition from one season to the next throughout the year. During spring, summer, and fall there is ordinarily abundant, colorful material, both woody and herbaceous; but it becomes more difficult to brighten the days of chill rains and hard frosts. These are times when, in many places, the only things in sight are the bare angular branches of the deciduous shrubs outlined against evergreens that point like dark fingers toward the cloudy gray skies.

Color in the winter GardenThere are ways though to provide winter interest and variety, even though much of the material available is much softer and less intense in color than the flamboyant subjects of the other seasons. A logical method consists of working out two closely integrated plans, to form a composition suitable for all periods of the year. The selection of shrub material with winter color in view is influenced by several factors, including cost of the plants, the skill of the gardener, and your personal preferences as to types and shades.

As always in garden designing, a plan of the area should be made in advance, together with a tentative list of shrubs that might be used. With this data in hand, it is wise to visit your local nurseries so as to become acquainted with their stock, both in its types and sizes. Most nursery owners will be keenly interested in a planned project and able to give you a lot of helpful advice about the choice and handling of the different species and varieties that are especially adapted to your particular locality and maybe even the property involved.

Color in the winter GardenI am not going to attempt to suggest any comprehensive groupings possible in a shrub border, but it is possible to outline one or two representative treatments. In connection with spring flowering trees, such as ornamental cherries, almonds, and crabapples, the following can be grouped: the familiar hydrangea, the spreading snowberry, the dogwood, and the purple-leaved barberry.

Color in the winter GardenAnother useful combination might include the single red-flowering hawthorn, various Japanese flowering cherries, a Darwin barberry, and forms of the Siberian dogwood or Cornelian-cherry.

Around a good fringe tree specimen, you might group a lovely Mockorange, the cut-leaf sumac, and Cotoneaster; or perhaps, the box-leaved Cotoneaster and Japanese barberries.

Thus you can go on building up collections of varieties according to the size of your yard and the other factors already mentioned. Take care though not to produce a spotty effect by scattering specimens of different types and colors. Remember the old landscape design rule for the use of plant material: “Never plant less than two, or preferably three, of any one type of shrub in a place.” Yet, in certain cases it may be permissible and advisable to emphasize the beauty of an especially fine specimen by making it an exception to that rule and planting it against a background of other material distinctively different in both the color and texture of its foliage.

This is a good challenge for you to do your homework this winter. Take a look at your yard during this winter and have a look at the color that is already there. Then set forth your plan for having color in your garden next winter.

Continually developing “ideas for outdoor living”

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008 at 2:50 am and is filed under Ideas. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

8 Responses to “Color in the winter Garden”

  1. vick Says:

    The winter is a wonderful time of the year. I love it.
    I also like color and your article has opened my eyes to the possibilities.
    Great article.

  2. Philipe Says:

    I always leave cleaning up my flower garden till spring as the tall dead heads add interest for me

  3. Mops Says:

    good article thanks

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