• Sandi Manna

Guide to Plants With Winter Interest. Part 2: Woody Ornamentals

Woodies, or woody ornamentals, lend a particular quality to the winter garden. Shrubs that add beauty to the winter garden don't necessarily have to be evergreen.

Take a look at some of our favorite picks.

Harry Lauder's walking stick. Corylus avellana 'Contorta' is one of my absolute must-have

shrubs. This is one shrub who's twists and turns make it the focal point of the winter landscape. The twisted, contorted limbs are a winter show-stopper. Couple that with the persistent and showy catkins that remain throughout the season and this shrub has no rival.

My second favorite is without a doubt Winterberry Holly. Ilex Verticillata is the picture of winter cheer. Brightly colored berries burst into color in late fall and contrast with the bleak winter landscape adding color to an otherwise barren scene. The berries often persist into late spring and are a great source of food for backyard songbirds. Winterberry hollies are dioecious, which means that there are both male and female plants. Only the females bear the brightly colored berries, but one male can be sufficient to pollinate up to ten female plants.

If you're looking to brighten a bleak winter landscape, look no further than Red Twig Dogwood or Cornus Alba. These brilliantly colored shrubs come in varieties that are red, yellow, or in the case of 'Mid-Winter Fire', who's branches start out yellow with a color transition to brilliant orange and then end in tips that are fire red! Medium sized shrubs, these shrub dogwoods come in several varieties. Some have variegated leaves, while others have solid green leaves. The bark of these shrubs is less noticeable in the summer when they're more of a muted green color. When the temperature starts to drop, these shrubs show their bold color. Branches of brilliant reds or yellow brighten up the winter landscape.

Witch Hazel, which can be the standard almost small tree size of Hamamelis, or it's smaller counterpart Spike Winter Hazel (Corylopsis spicata). Both bloom in the mid winter garden, blooming even before the earliest spring bulbs and even before Lenten Rose, or Hellebore.

Oak leaf Hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia) are a great all-season interest shrub. They have beautiful flowers all summer, but they are hauntingly beautiful in the heart of winter. Dried blooms cling to branches reminiscent of summer. Exfoliating or peeling bark catches frost and snow and sparkles in the sunlight.

Of course there are a wide variety of evergreens.

Hollies with their bright berries.

Conifers such as blue spruce and gold thread with their colorful green boughs of blue or yellow.

Various False Cypress that catch snow in their branches and make them the landscape look like a winter wonderland.

If the winter has you missing your garden, try the selections above that add a whole new dimension to the winter garden. I suggest you incorporate these shrubs into you landscape in an area that can easily be viewed from inside your home.

If you're looking for a landscape that gives you more and provides winter interest, give us a call. Winter is there prefect time to plan your landscape.

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