Yes, you read it right, a garden in the winter. Unless you live in the warm south you don’t usually think about what plants and perennials you would like for the winter season. With cold and snow on its way we like to clean up the garden and put it to bed for a few months. While all of that is a good thing, there is a way to keep your garden attractive and interesting even through the winter months.
To begin with you need to have a good sampling of evergreen trees and shrubs throughout your garden. Once the leaves have fallen things tend to look quite bare, but the evergreens will hold your garden structure together. An assortment of sizes, shapes, colors and foliage texture will keep your frozen landscape interesting.
When you choose your deciduous trees and shrubs look for those that will also make good winter garden plants. Plant varieties with good bone structure or interesting bark and stem coloration. Ratty tatty bushes with no definition of shape are not attractive when bare. Try dogwoods, ninebarks, hydrangeas and viburnums. Bushes and trees that develop berries are also an asset to the winter scape.
Be sure to grow a selection of ornamental grasses throughout your beds and do not cut them down in the fall. Frost and snow covered grasses can be beautiful straight through to spring. If you have a heavy wet snowfall go out and shake the snow off before it has a chance to drag down the stems. Your Miscanthus, Calamagrostis and Panicum grasses have strong stems to withstand the cold winds of winter.
When you are doing your fall perennial cutdown leave those perennials that can stand tall and strong throughout the winter and have interesting seeds heads. The birds will thank you and they will continue to look effective through winter. A few good garden plants to try for winter are Aster, Astilbe, Echinacea, Echinops, Eryngium, Eupatorium, Liatris, Rudbeckia Sedum and Veronicastrum.
With a little planning winter gardening can be effortless and your garden will continue to work for you and look good even in the coldest months. As for the gardener, it will be time to take a break, keep warm and get planning for the spring.