Gardeners tend to spend the cold, dreary months of winter dreaming about and planning spring gardens. However, the oncoming winter season needn’t mark the end of this year’s gardening. The winter solstice can be a charming and colorful time in our gardens and planters, thanks to winter flowering plants, evergreens, fruited shrubs and trees, ornamental grasses, and other lovely winter plants. Here are some suggestions for planning and planting a winter garden.
The Best Containers for a Winter Garden
As summer wanes and nights become chilly, pack away your outdoor clay, terra cotta, ceramic, and glass pots, as they may not survive winter’s falling temperatures. If your winters are quite cold, tuck away your metal containers until spring, as well. Leave your frost-safe wood, stone, resin, cement, fiberglass, and plastic planters and hanging pots outdoors for the most beautiful winter displays.
Plan Ahead to Enjoy Your Wintry Garden
Now is also the time to position your planters and pots for winter. Move wooden planters to a solid surface, rather than leaving them directly on the ground. Put smaller pots closer to the house for extra protection from the elements. Finally, place containers where you can create vignettes to enjoy along your winter walkways and from cozy indoor spots. Don’t deny your neighbors and visitors the lovely colors, textures, and shapes in your winter garden – their spirits will be lifted by your lovely yard and pots, as well.
Colorful Winter Flowering Plants
Give your winter garden a head start with summer and autumn flowers, grasses, and herbs that will eventually add lovely shape and gently muted colors to your wintry plots and containers. Then, as winter approaches (and if your climate allows), add hardy winter plants that are cold tolerant (pansies, violas, snapdragons, flowering kale, and winter cabbage, for example), in colors that mark and celebrate the changing of the seasons. Whether you love vivid jewel tones or more muted silvers, whites, and greens, choose colors that will bring you joy through the winter.
Colorful Trees and Shrubs for Your Garden and Containers
In warmer climes, winter-flowering shrubs are a lovely way to keep your garden colorful through the wintry months. Even if your winters are frosty, your winter garden and planters can be brilliant and striking. To add color to your garden, plant fruited trees and shrubs with over-wintering berries, such as hawthorn, Blue Muffin Viburnum, or Snowberry (you’ll be providing nourishment for birds, too). Many deciduous trees and bushes – birch, dogwood, and cherry, for example – have decorative bark that can give remarkable color and texture to your garden. Bring greens, golds, and icy green-blues to your garden and to your planters, as well, with conifers (pine, fir, spruce, and cedar).
Imaginative Ways to Add More Color
The natural colors of a winter garden are lovely and need no adornment. However, color can be added to gardens and planters in other ways. For example, during the holiday season, add strings of tiny lights, berried bittersweet branches, and colorful store-bought chickadees or cardinals to your containers for a special and festive feel. Touches of gold or silver spray paint on dried flowers or leaves make a planter or window box even more celebratory.
Using Shape and Texture
Bring interest and drama to your yard with a variety of shapes, sizes, and textures. Add height to containers with winter-flowering heather and ornamental grasses; add breadth with flowering kale and winter cabbage, and add interesting shapes with snapdragons, herbs, and dwarf conifers. Well-pruned trees and bushes, whether evergreen or deciduous, are dramatic silhouettes in your winter garden.
Of course, keep your planting hardiness zone in mind as you plan. Your local nursery will help you find plants that are winter hardy in your zone and provide tips on caring for them, too. Most importantly, create what you love. Do you envision a magical silvery-green winter garden naturally illuminated by sparkling icicles and fluffy snow? Is your ideal winter garden a colorful display of hardy pansies, violas, and fruited bushes? Whatever your vision, a lovely winter garden will soothe your soul through the chilly winter months… as you plan for and dream of the coming spring.
About the Author:
Scott Gray is a garden enthusiast who loves to relax taking care of his garden. For more information about container gardening ideas, wooden garden planters and organic fertilizers be sure to visit his site allgardenplanters.com.