10 plants to liven up your winter garden

  • Tue Jan 24th, 2012 5:28pm
  • Life

By Samantha Sunne, Special to the Herald

It’s tough keeping a garden attractive in the winter, with nature working against you, but Sandy Schumacher, of the Evergreen Arboretum and Gardens in Everett, has some suggestions.

The key word is color. Several plants sprout flowers, berries and tinted leaves in winter. Others have unusually textured or colored bark, like the red twig dogwood, whose vibrant red branches easily stand out against ice or snow; or the paperbark maple, a tree whose light brown bark peels naturally off its trunk.

“Something like this, something a little different, always looks good in winter,” Schumacher said.

Gardeners should place certain attention-catchers like the paperbark maple in highly visible spots, perhaps just outside a window.

Keep in mind where you want your visitors’ eyes to be drawn, Schumacher said.

Take a look at 10 plants that will add beauty to your winter garden in our photo gallery.

Another winter eye-catcher is the beautyberry. Dark purple berries dangle from this tree’s spindly white branches.

Like the paperbark maple, this is a tree that looks best when defoliated in winter, Schumacher said.

“This would be a beautiful thing to have visible from inside the house,” she said.

Even dead trees can be beautiful. Another unusual element Schumacher suggests is a stump or fallen tree, which can add a decorative touch without needing blossoms.

“Don’t throw your logs away,” Schumacher said.

She also advises gardeners to take a walk through nurseries or gardens such as the arboretum for ideas for winter plants.

“It pays to go through public gardens in winter,” she said.

The Evergreen Arboretum grows some plants specifically for winter such as a mahonia variety called Charity, which bears bright yellow bracts, or leaves, in December.

Another winter garden dazzler is a variety of heather, a short, bright red shrub, whose blooms last for several months. Different varieties of heather bloom in different seasons.

“They are out of this world in the winter because of that flaming color,” Schumacher said.

But winter color doesn’t just mean flashy. Evergreen perennials are also important, including hellebores and Japanese white pines.

“I never had an appreciation for evergreens until I came to the arboretum,” Schumacher said.

Some even develop new shades on their tips in the winter. Golden spreader Caucasian fir needles are accented by chartreuse, a shade of yellow-green that can add a bright shot of color to even the grayest of winter days. Click here to see 10 plants that look great in the garden in winter.

Evergreen Arboretum &Gardens

145 Alverson Blvd., Everett, www.evergreenarboretum.com.