Winter and garden are not two words we normally hear together. Creating an interesting landscape during the winter months certainly comes with some challenges. Most of us just think of preparing plants for dormancy and leaving them there until the spring thaw. You can actually create a lot of visual interest with trees and shrubs.
Types of Trees and Shrubs to Use in Winter Landscapes
The obvious winter front-runners, of course, include evergreen trees and shrubs including both broadleaf types and conifers. Conifers come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors including gold, green, purple, and white. Some great evergreens to use include: spruce, pine, juniper, and yew.
Deciduous trees and shrubs, though they are not lush and green during this time of year, can still add interest to a landscape with the structure of their branches, color of their bark, and a few other factors.
Specific Deciduous Trees and Shrubs to Create Winter Garden Interest
The most interesting and eye-catching of deciduous trees and shrubs in a winter landscape are the ones with twisting branches or lots of layers. Unusual form and interesting textures look like artistic sculptures in the winter months, especially if their branches become blanketed with snow.
Trees with Interesting Bark
Without the leaves in the way, trees with visually appealing bark can show it off. Some of these plants can create stunning focal points in a winter landscape. Some trees and shrubs have bark with interesting colors like the smooth red-hued bark of the Crepe Myrtle or the popular white bark of a Birch. Some Birch Trees also add textural interest with peeling or flaking bark. Japanese Maple trees have a gorgeous sort of silvery sheen to their bark in addition to the amazing sculpturally gorgeous twisting branches. Some other interesting bark trees and shrubs include: Oak Leaf Hydrangeas and Sycamores.
Trees and Shrubs with Winter Fruit
Some tree and shrub species have colorful berries during the winter. The Red Chokecherry Shrub creates clusters of shiny fruit during the winter. Holly, a traditionally popular Christmas plant, is full of glossy evergreen leaves and red berries at this time. With large deep red berries ripe through the fall and winter, the Sugar Thyme Crabapple is a great winter garden staple.
Sculptural Twisting Branches
Perhaps one of our favorite types of winter garden interest. Some trees and shrubs create such unique branch patterns that they are like staring at pieces of art in a museum. Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick contorts its branches in a sort of corkscrew pattern that is only enjoyed once it is finished flowering after warmer months. Willow trees have thick twisting branches of red and gold hidden beneath their leaves only to be enjoyed and marveled during winter months when they are bare. As mentioned above, the Japanese Maple is stunning with bare branches.
Flowering and Fragrant Winter Blooms
Some trees and shrubs actually do bloom in the winter months. Witch Hazel blooms with long lasting yellow blossoms that smell great during December.