Winter may keep you out of the garden, but winter shouldn't keep the garden out of the landscape
The season is another great time to assess your landscape. Many gardeners forget to add winter interest into their yard plan, planting only spring and summer perennials, leaving the winter garden looking like large flat dirt spots.
Winter is typically less important to most gardeners, but the best landscapes always include plants for all seasons.
I use evergreens as structure, accents and backdrops for the summer landscape. When well positioned, evergreens transition from a supporting role into the featured plants of the winter garden.
Some of the plants I use for winter interest include holly, euonymus, boxwood, yews, pines, junipers, liriope, carex sedge and a few deciduous perennials like red twig dogwood.
Holly comes in a wide variety of sizes, leaf styles and textures. Most hollies that produce berries will need at least one male plant in the vicinity of the female plants to achieve berries.
Boxwood also encompass a large variety of styles. However, the differences in leaf color and style are often subtle. Boxwood styles include a dwarf variety that reach a finished height of about two feet, bushes that range from three to six feet tall, and a few columnar varieties. My favorite boxwood for our area are Green Mountain and Korean. Green Mountain is dense in its foliage, very reliable for our climate and somewhat faster growing than many varieties. The Korean boxwood keeps a deeper green color in our winters, but has a looser form than Green Mountain.
Euonymus varieties, like the previous plants, have a wide variety of forms, textures, colors and sizes. Emerald Gaiety can be a small bush or low and spreading, depending on how they are trimmed. Emerald and Gold, Cholipo, and Silver King are taller and bushier varieties that come in various variegated colors. Euonymus range in size from three to eight feet tall, depending upon species or desired trimming.
Among liriope, Big Blue is an 18-inch-tall evergreen that has the look and texture of grass. It is excellent for a low evergreen, and has dark-green foliage and blue flowers in late spring.
Another evergreen grassy plant is Ice Dance, a carex sedge. It is a variegated plant with similar characteristics to liriope but a bit less consistent as an evergreen.
A few deciduous plants offer winter interest. such as the red and yellow twig dogwood bush. These bushes range in size from three to eight feet tall, with either green or variegated leaf color. In winter, the deciduous stems of the bush are often bright red or golden yellow. In the right locations these non-evergreen perennials can also add great winter interest.
Pines, junipers, spruce, and other varieties of evergreen are too numerous to discuss, but range in height from 12 inches to full-size trees.
Winter may keep you out of the garden, but it shouldn't prevent you from having a nice winter landscape. Use the time you can't be in the yard during the cold season to research and plan a selection of evergreens to include in next year's winter garden.
Bryce Rugraff is owner of The Plant Company and Plant Company Landscaping in Walla Walla. He can be reached at 525-1272 or at firstname.lastname@example.org .