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Plants with great winter interest and how to incorporate them into your design

By February I am done with winter. I’m ready for spring, and all the exciting changes that it brings to the garden. I’m ready for bulbs, and dogwoods in bloom, and flowering cherries. But, typically the winter has several more weeks before it lets up, and I have to be patient. Read on to learn about a few of the plants that add interest to the late winter garden.

My first winter in North Carolina, after I left my zone 6 home, I noticed a crazy looking plant. It was deciduous with beautiful rich brown bark, and fragrant flowers that looked like upside down umbrellas. I had never seen anything like it – and I found out that it was Edgeworthia. During summer and fall you might not notice it – the plant has long medium green leaves, and a nice domed form. But once the leaves fall, and especially after the flowers start to open, you can’t miss this show stopper. As much as I love it’s bold winter appearance, I also appreciate that it can be a background player too. In the summer surround it with finely textured perennials to play off it’s bold foliage, and let them be the star. Once winter comes the perennials will be out of the picture and you can appreciate the form, flower, and fragrance of this cool shrub.

Another great plant for winter interest is the Witch Hazel. Several species of this plant are available in the nursery, including the Intermedia hybrids, of which Arnold’s Promise is one. Other species are the native Hamamelis virginiana, and Hamamelis vernalis. While I try to defer to natives, when they are an option, I definitely prefer the hybrids for their late season bloom time, and because they flower after dropping all their leaves, which makes for a more bold presentation. As with the Edgeworthia, let this plant be a background player during the spring, summer, and fall. With it’s broad vase shape it provides shade to perennials in the summer, but will be the star of the show in late winter.

Looking to add some winter interest to your garden? Contact Bright Leaf Landscaping at 919-475-1015 or fill out our online contact form. Design and installation are our expertise, and we are always happy to meet with new clients to discuss potential projects!