Here in the Seattle Puget Sound area, many colorful plants have already had their last hoorah for the season. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Just because it’s cold and grey out there, it doesn’t mean your garden has to be drab and boring. With the right selection of plants, you can brighten up your garden in the dead of winter. Here are a few of my favorites.
Forsythia (shown above)
A favorite among northwest cottage-style landscapes. This deciduous shrub is covered in bright yellow flowers from top to bottom in early spring. Not only does it look great in the garden (cat not included), it may also be used in flower arrangements. Forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia) typically grows up to 6’ tall and often taller. If you prefer a shorter shrub, there are several dwarf varieties available.
Camellia (shown above)
My personal favorite! Camellia (Camellia japonica) is an evergreen shrub with rose-like flowers. It comes in many color variations of red, pink, and white. This stunning shrub blooms from fall to early spring and typically grows 5’ to 10’ tall depending on the variety.
Sweetbox (shown above)
If you are thinking, hey, this plant is nothing special, I have good news! Sweetbox (Sarcococca hookeriana humilis) is a handsome groundcover with an amazing fragrance. This low growing evergreen grows well in the shade and grows 12 to 14 inches high. The tiny white flowers bloom in late winter or early spring, followed by small berrylike fruit. You don’t need to plant many of these as they spread by underground runners to 8 feet or more.
Winterberry (shown above)
This deciduous shrub looks somewhat like holly in the summer but loses its dark green leaves in the fall. Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) has a spectacular array of bright red berries in winter months, and birds love the berries! Because Winterberry grows 6 to 15 feet tall and wide, make sure you have plenty of available room in your garden.
Lenten rose (shown above)
Another one of my favorites is the Lenten rose (Helleborus hybrids). This winter-blooming beauty is a herbaceous perennial that grows 12 to 18 inches high. Flower colors available are white, pink, purple, and yellow. Bloom time is from late December to March and grows best in partial shade.
Beautyberry (shown above)
It’s hard to top the color purple in the winter! This deciduous shrub is covered with small violet-purple berries that hang on well into winter. Beautyberry (Callicarpa dichotoma) has slender arching branches that grows 4 feet tall and slightly wider.
Japanese skimmia (shown above)
This shrub is all about the berries. Japanese skimmia (Skimmia japonica) is a densely branched evergreen shrub with a naturally rounded shape. The red berries, along with the glossy green-leaved backdrop, gives a rich accent to winter gardens. My favorite variety is Berri-Magic Japanese Skimmia. The standard variety needs a combination of a make and female plant to ensure an abundant growth of berries.
For even more winter garden pizazz, how about adding colorful landscape lighting? If you are interested in learning more, click here.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post and are inspired to get out there and enjoy your winter garden (if yes, please 'like' below)! If you need a professional design and landscape architect for your residential or commercial landscape, we would love to help! Give us a call at (425) 496-7772, schedule a meeting, or connect with us on Facebook.
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Susan Combs Bauer, Landscape Architect www.bauercombs.com