• Sandi

Top 9 Shrubs For Winter Interest

Happy New Year! Start planning for next year's garden now! Here are our top 9 shrubs for winter interest

Berry and Bright:

Ilex Verticillata, or Winterberry Holly

This is a great shrub. It's fairly nondescript in the summer, but we don't care about that. There are plenty of perennials to do the trick in the summer. And where are they in the winter? SLEEPING, that's where! That's when this shrub takes the spotlight. Late in August or early September this shrub has brightly colored fruit that starts ripening.

The fruit persists well into winter (depending on your bird population). There are shrubs with berries ranging in color from yellow to orange to the more commonly known red which can sometimes be seen growing wildly on the sides of the road.

Winterberry Holly is exceptionally beautiful against a background of snow, but even here in CT where snow is iffy, it really brightens the garden in the winter. It's also beautiful in winter arrangements.

Easy to grow, deer resistance and adaptable to most situations, this shrub usually will grow to be about 10 feet, but there are dwarf varieties that only grow to 3 feet for smaller gardens.

Annabelle hydrangea. Ahhh the hydrangeas. But wait, we're talking about winter! If left up, the dried hydrangea blooms add interest to the winter garden. A sparkle of frost or a dusting of snow enhance the dried blooms even more and they sparkle like jewels.

Seeing Red:

Red Twig Dogwoods

There are many varieties of this shrub. I personally prefer the variegated variety (Cornus Albus Elegantissima) because I like its variegated leaves in the summer. Regardless of which variety you choose, you'll see the bright green twigs in summer start to turn to a deep red-burgundy in fall.

Go For Gold:

Chamaecyparis or False Cypress 'Fernspray Gold' will brighten up any winter garden even on the bleakest days! Classy arching sprays of fern-like foliage brighten up the garden with their golden color and soft texture.

Textured Green:

Another type of Chamaecyparis or False Cypress is Chamaecyparis Obtusa. I like this shrub because of its different texture. It has fans of emerald green which bring nice green color your winter garden.

Twist and Shout:

The twisted branches on Harry Lauder's Walking Stick have me shouting for joy in the winter! This is one of those shrubs that, for me, look better in the winter than they do the summer! I particularly like the variety 'Red Majestic' because of its burgundy leaves, but no matter the variety, this is one shrub that is sure to be a conversation piece!

Golden Drops Of Sunshine:

This eye-catching evergreen

Ilex Crenata ' Drops Of Gold' will catch your eye any time of the year, but especially during the winter. Rich green oval leaves with just enough yellow that looks like sunshine melted from the sky and dripped a little onto the shrub.

Graceful Elegance:

Weeping spruce. These elegant evergreens with graceful boughs gently draping towards the ground are a nice feature in the winter. With beautiful form they can create the backbone of your winter garden. Look a little closer and you'll see dainty cones. Seeds produced in these small chestnut colored cones provide food for a variety of wildlife and the spruce itself can provide shelter for wildlife as well

Physocarpus or Ninebark

I really like these shrubs for a number of reasons. I love their burgundy foliage and it's a GREAT substitute for barberry. We never plant barberry because it's an invasive shrub. It out-competes our native shrubs and grows out of control. If you ever take a hike in the woods, you'll see barberry growing wild everywhere. This changes our entire ecosystem. We feel that carefully avoiding species that are problematic to the ecosystem is responsible gardening and that responsible gardening is good gardening. This shrub has 2 additional benefits to barberries. The first (and probably best for us) is the fact that Ninebarks don't have thorns. Barberries have nasty thorns. Also, the bark on these shrubs is beautiful! Gently exfoliating or peeling, but never coming off, the outer peeling layer of cinnamon colored bark gives way to a lighter golden bark beneath.