Guides: City and Courtyard
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, fragrance and flowers. To create such a beautiful winter scene, you need to make sure you select the right plants.
Naturalizing bulbs is a terrific way to brighten up lawns, prairies or meadows in spring. They also make gardening easy. Once planted, there is nothing left to do: these bulbs can stay right where they are and produce flowers year after year. What could be better?
Many tulips are not strongly perennial and their floral display tends to decline from season to season. They bloom well the first year, but then peter out after a couple of years. But if you select the right tulip varieties, plant them in the right spot and provide the proper care, you can be rewarded with a magnificent spring display year after year.
From fall into winter, crabapples put on a terrific display of colorful fruit in a wide array of color, including pale lime, chartreuse with yellow highlights, various shades of gold often rouged with pink, orange or bright red cheeks, bright orange, crimson, carmine, burgundy or even bishop's purple. If persistent, their color parade can be enjoyed for months unless hungry birds feast on them.
Native to Japan, Hydrangea macrophylla (Big Leaf Hydrangea) is one of the most popular hydrangeas in our gardens. This deciduous shrub features a rounded habit, large bold leaves and attractive clusters of long-blooming summer flowers. The species is divided into two groups: the Mophead Hydrangeas with large rounded flower heads, mostly packed with showy sterile florets, and the Lacecap Hydrangeas with flattened flower clusters composed of showy sterile florets radiating around a central cluster of tiny fertile florets.
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese Barberry) is a compact, woody shrub with arching, slender, zig-zag branches bearing a single, sharp spine at each node below each rosette of leaves. The wedge-shaped leaves are untoothed, slightly blue-green to green to dark reddish purple, and borne in whorls or clusters. Some Japanese Barberry cultivars are spectacular additions to the landscape where they bring a strong color accent from spring to fall.
Real eye-catchers in the garden, Gladiolus, also known as sword lilies, are cormous perennials boasting incredibly spectacular spikes of funnel-shaped flowers in summer in a surprisingly wide range of colors. Borne atop attractive fans of sword-shaped or linear leaves, they always provide a dramatic effect with their rich and cheerful colors and their breathtaking vertical lines.
Native to Mexico and Central America, Echeverias are regarded by many as one of the most beautiful succulents. Evergreen, they form attractive rosettes of fleshy leaves and often resemble plum-petaled roses, waterlilies or ruffled lettuce. There are dozens of species, and hundreds of cultivars offering a wide array of colors, sizes or leaf shapes.
Their flowers are incredibly large, 6-10 in. across (15-25 cm). Star-shaped, they may be single, semi-double or double and are available in a wide range of colors. They usually bloom in two waves. They bloom in late spring or early summer on the previous year's growth. They often repeat blooming in late summer and early fall on new wood.
Native to Japan and Korea, Hydrangea serrata (Mountain Hydrangea) is a deciduous shrub of rounded habit with delicate lacecap flowers with flattened clusters from early to late summer. Reminiscent of the Bigleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla), it is however more refined in habit and its flowers and leaves are smaller. Borne in great quantity, the elegant blossoms of some cultivars have the wonderful habit of changing color 3 to 4 times per season.
While all Japanese Maples are beautiful and provide a fabulous architectural presence, in the garden or in containers, some feature particularly outstanding features such as dramatic foliage, long-lasting striking leaf color, unusual leaf shape or striking winter bark. The eye can never pass lightly over the dazzling color presented by their flaming foliage across seasons or the graceful outlines of their brilliant coral twigs and branches.
Queens of the winter flowers, Camellias are attractive evergreen shrubs that are highly prized for the beauty of their exquisite blooms, their splendid evergreen foliage and their compact shapely habit. Blooming prodigiously for weeks from fall to spring (depending on climate and variety), when the rest of the garden offers little, Camellias are ranked as one of the very best flowering shrubs
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