By Julie Martens Forney
Welcome winter by designing a landscape that looks great during the garden’s quiet season. By relying on simple structures and plants that thrive in the Mid-Atlantic, you can create a yard that overflows with winter interest.
A pair of Adirondack chairs, above, take on a new look under a heavy snowfall. Meanwhile, a lilac hedge piled high with snow transforms into a work of art. Lilac is a mid-Atlantic favorite for its late-spring color and fragrance. What you may not know is lilac offers drought-tolerant beauty and, once established, a low-maintenance personality.
Ornamental grasses are go-to perennials for winter interest. For many grasses, seed heads linger through winter snowfalls. Ornamental grasses also add color and a gentle rustling to winter scenery. Grasses that stage a strong winter show include Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’, ‘Karl Foerster’ feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora), switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), and prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepsis).
Shrubs can lend winter interest to the landscape. The dried flower bracts from Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus), pictured, last through most of a Mid-Atlantic winter, acting like small cups that cradle fluffy snow. Faded hydrangea blooms also bring another layer of winter interest — until winter storms blast them apart. You could also grow berried shrubs such as hollies and pyracantha.
Structures bring a strong architectural presence to winter scenery. A fence, arbor, or garden art can help define spaces and provide eye appeal in a snow-covered yard.
Evergreens are the rock stars of the winter landscape, adding color and structure. Many evergreen trees are drought tolerant, needing little attention once established. For winter color in the Mid-Atlantic consider Norway spruce (Picea abies), black pine (Pinus nigra), Virginia pine (Pinus virginiana), and loblolly pine (Pinus taeda).
Yucca is another strong drought-tolerant evergreen. This desert native embodies low maintenance, demanding very little to look its best. Consider ‘Color Guard’ yucca (Yucca filamentosa) for its gold textural leaves, which are also deer resistant. In spring, 6-ft flower stalks beckon hummingbirds.
Try one of these tips for creating winter interest in your yard. The result may not make you eager for winter, but it will give your yard year-round beauty.