We all love the beautiful flowers of the spring and summer and miss them this time of the year. With the exception of evergreens, the winter landscape can be quite bare and somewhat lifeless. However, even in the dead of winter, there are several plants that can add color and life to the landscape. Pansies, snapdragons and flowering kale, are the most familiar; however, several other plants can bring interest and beauty to the winter landscape with their flowers, colorful bark and other features.
Wintersweet is an attractive shrub that has a fountain-like appearance. It has yellow to white fragrant flowers. The plant is best used in a shrub border, along walks, or near doorways. It requires good drainage and can be severely pruned in the spring to control its size. The plant is best used in a shrub border, along walks, or near doorways. Wintersweet requires good drainage and can be severely pruned to control its size.
Witchhazel has a yellow to red fragrant flowers that bloom from January to March. It has an upright growth pattern and should be pruned after flowering to keep its form. It has yellow to orange fall foliage and is showy when growing next to a wooded area. Witchhazel lotion is derived from chemicals inside the stems. The plant gets its name because of its forked twigs which were sometimes used as water witching divining rods.
Daphnes are small evergreen shrubs with glossy leaves. They have very fragrant, attractive white to rose-purple colored flowers that bloom in February. A white flowering variety is also available. It has a fragrant scent that fills the garden. However, daphnes can be a challenge to grow. They require excellent drainage and do not tolerate waterlogged soils. Add plenty of organic matter to the soil prior to planting. They prefer partial shade. Daphnes hate to have their roots disturbed and do not tolerate transplanting well.
Lenten roses are an attractive herbaceous perennial that blooms in the winter. The flowers come in a variety of colors and eventually turn green before falling off in early spring. They have foliage that is dark green and leathery and prefer shady locations. Lenten roses should be planted in moist, well-drained soil full of organic matter, and fertilized every spring. Once they become established, they are long lasting perennials and reseed easily producing abundant seedlings.
Some plants have attractive bark features. River birches have a rich, cinnamon colored exfoliating bark. The paperbark maple has bark that peels away revealing a dark reddish-brown color. When we think of dogwoods, we envision trees with colorful blooms in the spring. However, several other lesser known species of dogwoods, such as the tartarian dogwood, the pagoda dogwood, and the redosier dogwood, are low growing and have colorful red to yellow branches and stems that brightens the winter landscape.
Other plants have colorful berries. Several species of hollies, both evergreen and deciduous have bright red berries. The beautyberry has purple and white berries. Several species of viburnums have red, blue or yellow berries, such as the linden viburnum and the European cranberry viburnum.
In spite of being in the dead of winter, these flowering plants can add beauty to your yard. Any snowfall that occurs will enhance their beauty.
Winter is also a good time to decide on what to plant in your yard. The 2014 Gwinnett County Extension plant sale will be offering a variety of flowering plants, fruit trees, and other plants of interest. Details will be on the Extension website www.gwinnettextension.com soon.
Timothy Daly is an Agricultural and Natural Resource Extension Agent with Gwinnett County. He can be contacted at 678-377-4010 or firstname.lastname@example.org.