Design your garden with winter color in mind

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 25, 2015

I have heard gardeners say many times, “There is nothing blooming or happening in the winter time.” I am here to tell you that this is not the case. You can design your garden to have splashes of colors throughout the seasons. Berries, bark and even flowers can help add color to those dreary winter days.

Oftentimes, I am asked to provide ideas on plants that will provide color during those long winter months. Most people automatically think that a garden’s color only comes from flowers, but this is not true.

Just recently, one of our Rowan County Extension Master Gardener’s brought in a beautiful specimen of a Yuletide camellia. This beautiful camellia was blooming perfectly right before Christmas. With its bright red petals and gold colored stamens, it was a show stopper.

If you need help decorating your wreaths for the holidays, all types of hollies are currently providing beautiful red berries. Holly berries are a food supply for local birds, so think of them before you remove all of the gorgeous berries.

I know many homeowners have nandinas. They are praised for their fall color and berries. However, the berries are considered toxic to native birds, and the plants tend to be invasive. So if I were choosing between a nandina and a holly, I would choose a holly. Hollies also attract honey bees in the spring, so it as an all-around good choice for the landscape.

Another favorite of mine is the Lenten rose. This provides great late winter or early spring color. This plant also does great in shade or semi-shaded areas. They can range in color, but the purple is my favorite. They are best purchased as plants, since the seeds can take up to five years to produce a flower.

Lately, there have been some colored twig dogwoods that have produced some interesting winter color, especially when it snows. I have fallen in love with the Artic Fire red twig dogwood for its winter color because the more mature part of the branches are a bright yellow, while the young parts of the plant are a burning orange/red (hence the name). It is a beautiful plant to see in the snow.

If you would like more information on winter garden color or need garden help in general, contact your local Cooperative Extension Agent, Danelle Cutting, at 704-216-8970.