Although most gardeners are ready for a break as winter approaches, the garden does not have to be lackluster during the winter months. Simple ideas can add interest.
Landscaping in a winter garden is a bonus. If the space is “unlevel”, then low stone walls will accommodate creeping plants in the summer months and eye appeal in the winter.
Following the contour of the slope makes the job easier and the terracing look natural. Adding layers of river rock over weed barrier material inhibits grass growth and forms a resting place for items of interest. Under heavy snow cover, bushes, grasses, statues, benches or artwork may be the only items that delineate the winter garden.
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Garden Water Features
Pond plants will disappear during the dormant period and the pond becomes a beautiful reflection of its background. Frozen ponds reflect the winter sun. Fish can usually hibernate through the winter if given adequate water depth.
A fountain adds eye appeal to any garden in the winter. Even though fountains are de-activated during the winter months, the feature gives interest year round.
Winter Garden Art Features
There are many items to choose for the garden. There are statues, metal art, bird baths, pagodas, “yard art” in general and in any style of choice.
These items are designed to direct the eye to certain areas. Adding art is so enjoyable it can easily be overdone, so select carefully and sparingly. Remember that clutter causes confusion, not tranquility.
Trees in the Winter Garden
Trees can be incorporated to add color and winter garden interest. Evergreens such as the Alaskan False Cypress have beautiful drooping foliage that holds the snow beautifully on its branches.
There are miniature versions of the Arborvitae in green or yellow foliage for a variety of color.
Deciduous trees can provide interest in colors of bark and limbs. The Contorted Philbert has twisted and “screw shape” limbs that make it an outstanding feature in the winter.
The Japanese Pagoda Tree bears fruits and seeds on “chains” that last until spring. Lacebark Elm and White River Birch offer interest and eye appeal in their winter bark colors and bark peels once leaves have fallen.
offer a deep green contrast to the winter landscape, as well as food for the birds. Crepe Myrtle and Hardy Hibiscus have stalks with color and interest once the leaves have fallen.
Wisteria, although a vine, can be twined to form a tree. Lavender and Nandina also have interest and eye appeal in a winter garden.
A variety of grasses are available, from small to large. Maiden Hair grass is non-invasive, will grow up to 4’ tall in the second year with bloom stalks as high as 6’ tall.
The graceful motion of the winter grass in wind is tranquility. Pampas Grass has gorgeous bloom stalks that last all winter. Zebra grass is tall and regal and holds its stripes well over the winter months.
The easiest addition to any winter garden is birds. They are maintained the entire winter with a few feeders and a birdbath. If space is available, they like nothing better than to play and argue with one another in and around a brush pile. Their noisy delight is a blessing on a cold winter day and gives hope that spring will soon arrive.
Less experienced gardeners may find it is best to contact a local Landscape Designer or nursery for assistance in design and lay-out of a garden and selection of plants. A pre-conceived plan saves time, money and a lot of effort.