Two mornings and “winter interest”

Bristol harbor 12-10-07Bristol harbor 12-11-07Yesterday morning and today couldn’t have been more different. Purple drizzle clouds and bitter mist yesterday have moved over for a rime covered sparkle today. Admittedly it was less pleasant walking out in yesterday’s damp rag than today’s crisp apple but if my camera doesn’t lie, both mornings were gorgeous. I thought about “planting for winter interest” as I walked and thought, “is there anything NOT interesting in this winterland?” When we plant for winter interest I think we shoot for things that will be sufficiently pleasing from such a distance that we won’t have to leave our cozy hot chocolate kitchens to enjoy them. Put your mittens on and go outside though and nearly everything has “winter interest”!

Daphne x burkwoodii ‘Carol Mackie’

Daphne x burkwoodii ‘Carol Mackie’ is a small semi-evergreen shrub that blooms fragrantly in spring and is seeming kind of bloom-like now too! (I should have saved this one for Bloom Day…) The only trouble with Daphnes is that sometimes they just up and die. Even the AHS A to Z says “Mature specimens may die suddenly for no apparent reason”. They’re worth the gamble, says me.

Clematis ‘Roguchi’ 12-11-07 Clematis ‘Roguchi’ abstract

There just aren’t enough good things to say about Clematis ‘Roguchi’. I know I’ve said this already but any plant that blooms spectacular fairy hat indigo blooms all spring, summer and fall and then sports crazy Phyllis Diller seed heads for the winter gets my vote for president. Julie wrote about this superstar in the last newletter (If you join up you’ll receive our excellent newsletter!)


Euonymus alatus ‘Compactus’

Euonymus alatus (Burning bush, Winged euonymus) is on nearly every invasive list and really shouldn’t be planted where their seeds could be dispersed by birds to fragile woodland. They are highly adaptable thugs that compete with natives (and win). Ours is ‘Compactus’ and is at least 15′ tall and wide and has the most spectacular fall color and facinating twig wings perfectly visible now. It’s no wonder at all that people had to have this shrub and planted it everywhere. Too bad it’s a menace.

Metasequoia glyptostroboides (Dawn redwood)

I love the branch structure and indented trunk (like owl hideouts) of the Dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) and am facinated as a little kid by deciduous conifers. It’s so wrong it’s right! This tree likes rich well drained soil and full sun, is hardy from Z5-10 and grows plenty tall (AHS says 70-130′).

Tsuga canadensis ‘Sargentii’ - Sargent’s weeping hemlock Sargent’s weeping hemlock from the inside out

Another conifer (this one keeps its needles) near the house has an amazing branch structure and was dusted with frost this morning. To fully appreciate the form of Tsuga canadensis ‘Sargentii’ (Sargent’s weeping hemlock) I think you’ve got to be a little rude and look under the skirt. A weeper was grafted onto a non-pendant hemlock stem to give it some height (a leg to stand on).

Red maple on the great lawn 12-11-07 Red maple on the great lawn 12-10-07

It seems to me like “winter interest” may be out there whether you’ve planned for it or not! What is winter-interesting in your garden? – and did you plant it because of its “winter interest”?


8 thoughts on “Two mornings and “winter interest”

  1. A Hamamelis ‘Diane’ just went in this fall; the foliage was incredible. It’s loaded with buds and I’m hoping its bright red flowers come January/February. I also planted an osier dogwood ‘Arctic Fire'; it’s a hybridized native and they claim it will stay to 3-4 feet in height with blazing red stems in the winter. I planted it next to an Alberta Spruce that I can see from my kitchen door every day. Can you tell I like red?

  2. When we finally GET some winter, I’ll let you know what has winter interest in my garden, Kris. Those conifers are beautiful.

  3. Kris: Great pics! Love ‘under the skirt’ of the hemlock. When I have walked the paths I have been tempted to climb under there and know that kids would love that hideaway! I have some Cornus ‘Midwinter Fire’ and they are still pretty small. Also, the new conifer garden, GFSD, is a planting for winter interest if I can keep the deer at bay! Tucker saw them out there eating the winter rye which is planted right in front of this border and neither the deer nor Tucker expressed anything but disdain for each other! LOL :) Maybe I’ll see you today!

  4. Susan, Those are perfect winter beauties – I love red too (though I like orange even better) and there’s nothing to compare to spots of witch hazel blooms in the middle of winter.

    Pam, I’ll look forward to seeing what winter in Austin looks like!

    Layanee, It was nice of you (and good thinking) to plant the winter rye for the deer – might distract them from the new trees. Tucker doesn’t seem to know that his doggly duty is to chase them out of the garden – is he laying down on the job? Red twig dogwoods are so cool – gorgeous from a distance and all about “winter interest”! – did you come by?! I missed you…

  5. Everything about this post is wonderful, Kris, but I was totally boggled by the Metasequoia. How old is it? This must be one of the oldest specimens in North America, because weren’t they ‘rediscovered’ only in the early 1940s? Mine’s only a few years old and only planted last spring, so it’s got a ways to go…..It’s my favourite tree since I learned about it a few years ago (next to Ginkgo…)
    Perfect morning photos, too. I’m comforted to hear your weather is bouncing like an amok tennis ball, too. Cold cold here today, and supposed to rain on Sunday. Never a dull moment!

  6. Great post Kris. Love the pics! That Dawn Redwood is dropdead gorgeous, how wonderful to have a tree like that! I love nature so for me there is a lot of interest to be found in my garden during the winter months. There’s some of that on my blog today. 😉 We’re having frost here too at the mo!

  7. I’m with you, Kris–if you can ignore the drippy-wet days when everything looks sodden and tired, there’s a lot to love about the garden in winter. Frosty, icy, and snowy days make me happy I don’t do my garden cleanup until early spring!

  8. Jodi, I think fossils of Metasequoia were found even before a living specimen was located in the 40’s! Our Dawn redwood was given as a birthday present to Marjorie Lyons in the 1970’s so it’s even younger than me – but much taller – I’d say 60-70′ or so. They are fast growers so yours will be a big’un soon too!

    Yolanda, By the looks of it, you have a lot of blooms still for “winter interest”. – I keep thinking that the climate ought to be colder in the Netherlands than it is!

    Nan, I think we winter-lovers might be in the minority. I bet the wildlife must love your winter garden as much as you do!

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