Management guru Price Pritchett says, “Change always comes bearing gifts.” Winter may bring cold and snow, but the change of season also brings a gift of outdoor beauty.
What do you see from your window? If landscape planning considers all four seasons, then the view can be enjoyable regardless of the time of year.
Are there evergreens in the landscape? While evergreens are attractive year-round, their best show – in my opinion – comes in winter when their colorful needles stand out in the snow. From blue to green, long needled to short, compact in size to large, the variety of evergreens makes them easy to include in nearly any landscape.
Nonevergreen trees and shrubs also have something to offer year-round. White oak (Quercus alba), shingle oak (Quercus imbricaria) and black oak (Quercus velutina) keep their leaves in winter, as do some shrubs, like viburnum. Bark on deciduous trees that do drop their leaves directs more attention to their interesting trunks and branches; paper birch, Kentucky coffee tree and dogwood are striking in texture and color throughout winter.
Many trees and shrubs produce berries, which offer not only color but food for birds that overwinter in our area. Crabapple trees are a particular favorite of mine: blooms in the spring, green leaves through summer; pretty fall color and red berries for winter. What’s not to love? (Select cultivars that hang onto their berries through winter and you can avoid a mess under the tree.)
Ornamental grasses are beautiful garden accents and continue to be attractive in winter, offering color, texture and structure against the snowy background. Ranging in size from 18-inch tall blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis) to towering 6-foot-high Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans), there is a perennial ornamental grass for any garden.
Live in an apartment or condo where you don’t control the landscape? If you have a patio or deck, fill a winter-hardy container pot with holly, evergreen boughs and/or dogwood twigs. Nurseries and garden centers have plenty of other winter pot ideas to cheer up your view.
Does your winter window scene include entertainment? The antics of birds and squirrels offer a diversion throughout the winter months. If you lack berry-producing plants to attract them, hanging a bird feeder will soon attract a variety of birds (and squirrels, depending on the type of seed).
The landscape is with us 12 months of the year. Designing it for just three summer months is much too limiting. Consider how it will look year-round and plant accordingly. Then you can grab a cup of coffee, a warm blanket and comfortable chair and enjoy the gift of a January garden view.