Beavercreek Garden Center:
Mon-Sat: – 9am-5pm
Sun: – 11am-5pm
2074 Beaver Valley Rd
Beavercreek, Ohio 45434
Ph: (937) 427-4110
Wholesale: (937) 426-5729

Centerville Garden Center:
Mon-Fri: – 9am-6pm
Sat: – 9am-5pm

Sun: – 10am-5pm
6000 Far Hills Ave
Centerville, Ohio 45459
Ph: (937) 434-1326
Landscape: (937) 274-1154

Winter interest for your landscape

Photo: Richard Bloom

The beautiful foliage displays of fall can make winter season feel like a bit of a letdown. Winter does not need to be a boring time in the garden. The changing season gives you a chance to enjoy the details in your landscape that you otherwise might miss – the shape and color of a shrub, the delicate variegation on an evergreen, or birds darting around newly defoliated branches.
If your landscape has got the winter “blahs”, just a little attention in one of these areas can bring plenty of interest to this coldest season.

Plant some winter-interest superstars

While most plants are going dormant, a few winter stars are preparing to take center stage. Lenten roses, colored-twig dogwoods, and conifers with foliage that becomes more brilliant in winter can all help your garden shine among the bare stems.

Lenten Rose – Helleborus

Lenten rose (Helleborus orientalis) is a flowering perennial which begins blooming in January and continues though March, fading slowly as other plants begin to grow. They thrive in dappled shade, and seem to light up the perennial border with their multi-colored blooms. New and cool varieties include ‘Amber Gem’, a ruffled golden Lenten rose blushed with magenta, ‘Onyx Odyssey’, a rich black that looks striking in pots, and ‘Amethyst Gem’, a cherry-red looker which pops against a snowy backdrop. Lenten roses can even be used as cutting flowers for an indoor vase. Simply cauterize the cut stem tip with a lighter to stop the sap flow, and your flower stalks should stay looking fresh for two weeks or more.

Colored twig Dogwoods – Cornus

Colored-twig dogwoods (Cornus sericea) are also a fantastic choice for winter color. When they lose their leaves, they reveal bright red, yellow, or orange stems that show off well against a backdrop of dormant grasses or evergreen shrubs. And the display’s not limited to outdoors, either, since the cut stems last a long time in a vase or a holiday wreath. Colored-twig dogwoods grow in full sun to part shade and reach about 4-10′ tall and wide, depending on the variety. Check out ‘Midwinter Fire’ for sunset-colored stems and a dwarf growth habit, ‘Elegantissima’ for cream-variegated leaves in summer and blood red stems in winter, or ‘Hedgerows Gold’ which lights up the garden with golden-edged leaves in summer and yellow stems in winter.

Golden False cypress – Sungold

Golden False cypress is also a beautiful choice for bright winter color. They are considered an evergreen and will give any landscape a beautiful splash of Green/Yellow all year long. They really shine during the grey months of winter. There’s no need to protect false cypress from the elements; it is a large evergreen shrub that is exceptionally cold hardy. To prepare False cypress for winter, simply ensure that moisture levels are sufficient at the end of fall. This shrub could also benefit from a layer of mulch to protect the roots from extreme cold. Ensuring adequate moisture in the fall can be beneficial for the plant.

Winter Fruits and Berries

Some trees and shrubs display beautiful fruits in late summer or fall, which persist into winter. With a dazzling display of Crimson, Orange, Yellow or even Purple, their attractive fruits adorn their branches in eye-catching colors which gleam like jewels in the soft sunlight. In addition, the fruits of some species provide wild birds with high-protein food throughout the winter. If you wish to enjoy these colorful berries yourself, choose trees or shrubs with fruits that birds won’t eat until spring.

Birds Bring Activity and Color to any Landscape

Birds are the unsung heroes of the winter garden. While their antics are normally obscured by lushly-growing plants, in winter the bare stems let us watch their pecking and play. Here are a few things you can do to encourage them to frequent your garden.

First, leave dormant perennials such as ornamental grasses, black-eyed Susan, coneflower, and others to stand over the winter. Not only do their seed heads provide structural interest, but birds can enjoy scratching for the seeds all winter long. If you tidy up too soon, the birds will miss out on this great source of winter food.

Next, provide a winter water source for birds. In areas where it snows all winter, all the available water can freeze, which makes finding drinking water a challenge for birds. You can ensure regular visits from a variety of birds by using a bird bath with a warmer, or even a simple heated dog bowl to provide a steady source of water. However, it’s important to put a layer of sticks or stones over the dish so birds can drink from the water but not take a bath, which can be dangerous when temps go below 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

By far the best way to attract birds is by planting shrubs and trees that grow native in your area. Because birds are used to finding food and shelter in the plants that grow naturally in a region, you’ll find that planting natives will attract them in greater numbers as they produce food at just the right times of year for your local birds.

You can see from these suggestions that winter has plenty of its own seasonal joys. By planting for winter interest, using pots as focal points, and attracting your local birds, you can fill the season with beauty and life.