- Structure and lights. "The overall tendency, in all seasons in the garden, is to bring the inside out, to decorate the garden the same way you'd decorate the house," says Eric Johnson, communications manager of the Minnesota State Horticultural Society. So, think interesting garden chairs and wrought iron touches as well as a gazebo, arbor or pergola. Adorn them with clear lights to add night interest to the garden.
- The natural look. More gardeners are choosing to leave their perennial borders up over the winter for a more natural look. Purple coneflower and hydrangea add vertical interest to the winter garden, especially when snow lightly covers the plants.
- Grasses. Ornamental grasses are perfect for the winter garden, looking like tufts of wheat in the snow. Miscanthus and silver feather stand up well in the snow. Some varieties offer bolder colors, such as flame grass, which has reddish foliage that turns orange-red in the fall.
- Fruit. Select plants and trees that maintain fruit. "Fruit is a good winter interest and provides habitat for wildlife," Chuck Levine says. The rosebush called rosa glauca has fruit that changes color from red to black and colors in between. Winterberry provides red, gold and orange berries. The mountain ash tree has red berries (some varieties have orange), and this tree attracts the cedar waxwings. Crabapple trees, such as molten lava, have interesting branches that curve like waves and have lots of orange berries.
- Birds. Besides bird feeders, consider a heated birdbath to draw feathered ones to decorate the yard.
- Interesting trees and shrubs. Maple trees provide showy fall color, as does the burning bush shrub. Weeping trees look great in the winter, and trees and shrubs with contorted branches, such as mulberry and filbert trees, look interesting. Remember that evergreens come in myriad shades of green, and some offer gold and blue hues and variegated colors, too.
Winter garden tips
November 10, 2002