Create Your Garden

Create a Garden with Great Winter Interest

Plant Combinations, Flowerbeds Ideas, Winter Garden, Early Spring Garden

Plant Combinations, Flowerbeds Ideas, Winter Garden, Early Spring Garden, Exfoliating Bark, dogwood, witch hazel, ilex, berries

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, colors, fragrances, and flowers. To create such a beautiful winter scene, you need to make sure you select the right plants. Here is a list of shrubs, trees, and bulbs that will help you enjoy the winter season in a beautiful new way.

Attractive Winter Bark

Plant Combinations, Flowerbeds Ideas, Winter Garden, Early Spring Garden, Exfoliating Bark, dogwood, witch hazel, ilex, berries Bark becomes an important ornamental element in winter when the shedding of leaves exposes trunks and branches and reveals its glory. From warty to smooth, peeling to furrowed, tobacco to cinnamon-red, salmon-pink, or stark white, the variety of bark colors and textures is fascinating. Often, varying bark textures can be admired on the same tree, adding a most attractive and stunning character during winter. Don’t overlook the lenticels, those pleasing raised bands irregularly arranged along the surface of the bark!
Favorite plants with attractive bark include Acer griseum (Paperbark Maple), Acer palmatum ‘Sango-Kaku‘ or ‘Eddisbury‘ (Coral Bark Maple), Acer triflorum (three-flowered maple), Betula (Birch), Heptacodium miconiodes (Seven-Son Flower), Hypericum kalmianum (Kalm St. Johnswort), Parrotia persica (Persian Ironwood), Prunus serrula (Tibetan Cherry), Stewartia pseudocamellia (Japanese Stewartia)

Shrubs and trees with attractive winter bark

Colorful or Distinctive Stems and Twigs

Plant Combinations, Flowerbeds Ideas, Winter Garden, Early Spring Garden, Exfoliating Bark, dogwood, witch hazel, ilex, berries Planting deciduous shrubs or trees with colorful stems and twigs is a quick and easy way to add dramatic winter interest. Attracting the eye with their bright, showy colors, the twigs may be brilliant scarlet, olive-green, greenish-yellow, or even black. They may be straight or feature lovely curling shapes.

Plants to consider are Cornus alba ‘Siberica‘ or ‘Kesselringii‘ (Tatarian Dogwood), Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire‘ or ‘Annie’s Winter Orange‘ (Bloodtwig Dogwood), Cornus sericea ‘Cardinal‘ or ‘Flaviramea‘ (Redosier Dogwood). These plants can be planted separately or mixed for a tapestry of winter color. Other particularly attractive options include Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’ (Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick), Salix alba (Willow)

All these plants are cold-hardy, versatile, fast-growing, and of great appeal in other seasons, too, with stunning fall color, attractive berries, or lush summer foliage.

Shrubs and trees with colorful stems and twigs in winter

Winter Fruits and Berries

Plant Combinations, Flowerbeds Ideas, Winter Garden, Early Spring Garden, Exfoliating Bark, dogwood, witch hazel, ilex, berries Some trees and shrubs display beautiful fruits in late summer or fall, which persist into winter. In a glorious display of crimson, orange, yellow, or even purple, their attractive fruits adorn their branches in eye-catching bouquets, which gleam like jewels in the soft sunlight. In addition, the fruits of some species provide wild birds with high-protein food. If you wish to admire berries in the winter, select trees or shrubs with fruits that the birds shun until spring.

Plants to consider for their cheerful fruits include Aronia (Chokeberry) Berberis thunbergii (Japanese Barberry), Callicarpa (Beautyberry), Celastrus (Bittersweet), Ilex (Holly), Malus (Crab Apple), Symphoricarpos (Snowberry) or Viburnum.

Some roses produce equally attractive red-orange hips that last well into winter, such as Rosa rugosa, Rosa moyesii, or Rosa glauca.

Shrubs and trees with attractive fruits and berries in winter

Ornamental Grasses

Plant Combinations, Flowerbeds Ideas, Winter Garden, Early Spring Garden, Exfoliating Bark, dogwood, witch hazel, ilex, berries Attractive, easy to grow, and low maintenance, ornamental grasses are invaluable additions to the winter garden. Waving gracefully in the slightest breeze, they add movement to the garden, texture, and color since most turn shades of bronze, tan, or russet in the cooler months to create an impressive display. They offer a rich and interesting contrast with emerald evergreens, bright crimson berries, and crisp white snow. In addition, many are a source of food and shelter for birds.

Recommended ornamental grasses for winter interest are Chasmanthium latifolium (Northern Sea Oats), Deschampsia cespitosa (Tufted Hair Grass), Sporobolus heterolepis (Prairie Dropseed), Panicum virgatum (Switch Grass), Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’ (Sedge), Molinia caerulea subsp. arundinacea (Moor Grass), Calamagrostis brachytricha (Reed Grass), Liriope muscari (Blue Lily Turf), Festuca glauca (Blue Fescue), or Calamagrostis x acutiflora (Feather Reed Grass).

Great ornamental grasses for the winter garden

Cheerful Winter Flowers

Plant Combinations, Flowerbeds Ideas, Winter Garden, Early Spring Garden, Exfoliating Bark, dogwood, witch hazel, ilex, berries While flowers are usually associated with spring or summer, they can also contribute to the winter garden’s beauty. Adapted to endure harsh winter conditions, they bring the garden to life with their bright, showy colors and attract the eye.

Most people celebrate daffodils as the harbingers of spring without being aware that many other plants flower much earlier.

Plants to consider for their cheerful flowers include Helleborus (Hellebores), Hamamelis (Witch Hazel), Erica (Heath), Camellias, Iris reticulata (Dwarf Iris), Chimonanthus praecox (Wintersweet), Cornus mas (Cornelian Cherry), Lonicera fragrantissima (Sweetest Honeysuckle), Corylopsis pauciflora (Buttercup Winterhazel), Stachyurus praecox (Early Stachyurus), Eranthis hyemalis (Winter Aconite), Viola odorata (Sweet Violet), Cyclamen coum (Persian Violet).

Pretty flowers for your winter garden

Guide Information

Plant Type Bulbs, Ornamental Grasses, Perennials, Shrubs, Trees
Genus Cornus, Erica, Acer, Betula, Callicarpa, Camellia, Carex, Chaenomeles, Chimonanthus, Cyclamen, Helleborus, Salix, Iris reticulata, Ilex, Hamamelis, Viburnum
Season of Interest Winter
Maintenance Low
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Landscaping Ideas Beds And Borders
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow, Traditional Garden

Garden Examples

A Flower Carpet for Your Early Spring Garden
Add Sparkles To Your Early Spring Garden
An Exciting Idea For Your Early Spring Garden
A Glowing Winter Border with Dogwood, Heath and Grasses
A Cheerful Winter Border Idea with Hellebores and Cyclamens
An Eye-Catching Winter Border Idea with Colorful Twigs and Cyclamens
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

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