Winters may be long and cold, but your garden can allay that dreariness and be transformed into a place of natural beauty with visually arresting textures or colors. A quick and easy way to get your winter garden to burst into life with splendor, is to plant deciduous shrubs or trees with colorful stems and twigs. Attracting the eye with their bright, showy colors, their twigs may be brilliant scarlet, olive-green, greenish-yellow or even black. They may be straight or enjoy lovely curling shapes. There is a wide array of colors, textures and forms to pick from!

Here is a list of shrubs and trees that will help you create beautiful winter scenes and let you enjoy the winter season in a beautiful new way. All these plants are cold-hardy, versatile, fast-growing, and of great appeal in other seasons too, with their stunning fall color, attractive berries, and lush summer foliage.

In addition to providing a colorful display in the winter landscape, their branches can be harvested for holiday decorations as well.

Whether you grow them in a container or in the ground, they will need to get full sun in winter for better impact, and you will need to follow a pruning regimen.

Cornus alba (Tatarian Dogwood), Cornus sericea (Redosier Dogwood) and Cornus sanguinea (Bloodtwig Dogwood):
- The best twig coloration of these shrubby dogwoods is obtained on one-year-old wood. For the best display, cut the stems flush to the ground every 2-3 years in early spring, just as the leaf buds start to swell. This radical pruning, however means that you will have a bare spot in the garden for a few weeks and miss the creamy-white flowers or attractive berries since they only form on second-year growth. Alternatively, if severe pruning seems to onerous, one quarter or one third of the oldest stems could be pruned in early spring of each year, to stimulate the growth of new stems.

Salix alba (Willow):
Willows grow very quickly, up to 4-10 ft. in a season (120-300 cm). To control this tremendous growth and obtain a mass of gloriously colored stems in winter, cut the stems close to the ground every year in early spring, just as the leaf buds start to swell. This radical pruning, however means that you will have a bare spot in the garden for a few weeks. Alternatively, one third or one half of the oldest stems could be pruned in early spring.