Celebrating the Not-So-Simple Beauty of the Winter Garden

Celebrating the Not-So-Simple Beauty of the Winter Garden

I really enjoy winter gardens. Winter is one of my favorite seasons — although, I have to say, I’m a sucker for fall color. –Oh, and the riotous colors of spring always bring me great joy, and I do look forward to the lazy days of summer … but alas, I digress. Winter is my favorite season … for the moment.

I’m drawn to the simplicity of the winter garden. When a garden is stripped down to its bare essentials, its riotous summer display vaporized, the underlying lines of the garden are revealed. Materials are better seen and appreciated – the payoff for selecting high-quality building materials is especially evident in winter. Beautiful stonework and well-built structures can be enjoyed year-round.

Hamamelis ‘Jelena’And in the Northwest, if you choose your plants carefully, you can literally have blooms in your garden all year: yup, in winter too. A few things are still blooming and/or getting ready to bloom in my garden right now. The star of the show, at present, is my Jelena witch hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’).

While blooms are a welcome bonus in winter, if you really want to add verve to your garden, you’ll want to get the hang of working with plants with winter interest stemming from something other than flowers – something like, er, stems for starters. But don’t forget about bark, berries, buds, fabulous form, fragrance, or foliage, tantalizing texture … well, you get the idea. Bringing a variety of forms and textures into your garden can add visual energy and excitement. While colorful foliage is an important winter trait to be on the lookout for, even bare branches, backlit just so, can be visually arresting. The shape and form of plants can do a lot to carry the show during the starkness of the season.

The winter garden scene pictured below is in Lucy Hardiman’s garden as it appeared just days ago. Her garden is a great example of how well-chosen plants, selected for year-round interest, can result in a garden that is memorable — even now, smack dab in the dead of winter. I was particularly taken with her repetition of the warm tones of Anemanthele lessoniana in the foreground, and Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ in the background initiating a lively call & response.  The plantings are further enhanced and framed by the magnificent stone wall.

 Lucy Hardiman’s Garden in Winter

Lucy Hardiman is a masterful plantswoman, a highly-regarded garden designer, a widely published garden writer, and a popular lecturer at the garden shows. Be sure to attend one of the several seminars Lucy will be conducting at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show. See the seminar listing for full details – she’s speaking on several occasions.

  • Every Inch a Garden – Wed, Feb 20th at 11 am in Hood Room
  • Furnishing the Garden – Thu, Feb 21st at 11:30 am in Rainier Room
  • It’s Not Easy Being Green – Fri, Feb 22nd at 10 am in Rainier Room

For more great gardening tips, visit Jasmine’s San Francisco Flower & Garden Show blog.

2 Comments
  • Fast Growing Tree
    Posted at 23:22h, 22 January Reply

    Winter is also the time when trees are on the watch-out for the worst that nature has to offer. A plant’s resilience can really be tested during this season. Evergreen trees top the list of highly resilient winter flora in my opinion. Those shoots of green punctuating the dull, bare landscape can be very rejuvenating.

  • Fruit tree Grower
    Posted at 04:59h, 09 March Reply

    Winter is also a great time to plant deciduous `fruit trees` A great choice to prepare for winter blossoms and summer to fall fruit harvests.

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