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You want to know a secret? Shussshhh… come closer, I don’t want others to hear. Did you know that winter is our longest season of the year? If you don’t plan for winter interest in your gardens you are missing out on a huge opportunity. Most think winter interest is limited to evergreens but I believe there is much more available that would be more widely utilized if their assets were known.
The problem is the subject of winter interest usually comes up when no planting can be done… frozen, snow covered gardens keep us indoors and by the time spring arrives our winter inspirations have faded. Therefore, in an effort to inspire you and allow time for action, I present to you 6 great plants for bringing winter interest to your garden.
1. Lacebark pine Pinus bungeana “Rowe”
This Chinese native tree slowly grows to 30’ with glossy needles and a distinctive white bark that makes this evergreen stand out from the crowd. This collectors plant is an excellent rare specimen that will add to your landscape year-round.
2. Japanese Kerria Kerria Japonica
This suckering shrub grows 3’6’tall and tolerates a wide range of conditions. Kerria blooms yellow in spring and summer but the real advantage is the bright green branches displayed all winter long. Think of Kerria in mass plantings at the edge of woods or as a specimen in perennial gardens.
3. Shrub Dogwoods Cornus sp.
Red twig dogwood is a popular native shrub found in many landscapes. Did you know there are also yellow, coral, scarlet and multi-colored forms as well? These shrubs range from 4-10’ tall and most prefer moist soil conditions. Taller varieties are better placed at the edge of wood lines or in large plantings and do not work as well in foundation beds. Stems do not turn color until after freezing temperatures arrive so don’t expect to appreciate their true effectiveness until December.
4 Cornelian cherry Cornus mas
This dogwood tree may initially hides it’s prized winter display. Cornelian cherry is a very hardy tree that can grow 15-20’ tall in a wide range of conditions. Yellow flowers cover the plant in March and are followed by an abundance of red fruit in fall. Once the tree reaches adolescence the bark flakes away exposing a colorful bark with a pattern of grays, creams, greens and browns. This small tree is an excellent choice for foundation beds where multiple season interest is so important.
5 Harry lauders Waking Stick Corylus contorta
This twisted branch filbert provides a WOW all winter long. Bright silver bark and wildly twisted branches capture your attention making this an excellent specimen plant. Growing 10-15’ tall it will require some room but is well worth the space. A new red-leafed variety ‘Red Majestic’ offers additional seasonal interest as well.
6 Autumn Flowering Cherry Prunus autumnalis
This tree just can’t hold itself back. During warm winter days fluffy, pink flowers fully open while the remainder of the buds wait to provide a early spring display. Growing 20’ tall this tree requires well-drained soils and a sunny location as do all the ornamental cherries.
There are so many great and under-utilized plants that bring interest to your winter garden it was quite difficult to select just these few to share. For those who would like more to choose from consider attending a lecture titled “Beware of no Interest in Your Winter Garden” on Wednesday October 6th. Further information and sign up is available at Kenston community education 440-543-2552 or www.kenstoncommunityed.org.
Now go outside and have fu in the dirt!