For many, winter signifies a three-month vacation but just because the temperature dips below 30 degrees, doesn’t mean you turn your back on a landscape. Believe it or not, there are plant as well as design options that can make a winter landscape come alive, be eco-chic.
Eye-pleasing winter landscapes first and foremost consist of an underlying year-round structural design. Still, while hard-scapes, which include structures such as arbors, fences, walls and even benches, add a lot to a landscape as well as carefully placed sculptures or garden ornaments, it is soft-scapes – plants – which create seasonal color and texture. So, instead of thinking of a winter landscape in terms of it being dormant or evergreen, plan and install a few plants that contrast with traditional options.
Michael McConkey, owner of Edible Landscaping located in Afton Virginia, says, “I’ve spent many years growing, grafting and testing hundreds of plant varieties; in fact, I’ve named many of them myself. Through selecting only the easiest-to-care-for plants, which need little or no preventive maintenance and look terrific in your yard, I’ve discover many plants that do-well year around.” Related to winter landscapes, McConkey suggests winter blooming apricot, Japanese apricot or Ume, which he says, “I’ve seen its winter blooms and picked fruit by July.” Another option he suggests is Arkansas Black Apple, a small tree that bears excellent tasting winter apples. McConkey further says, “Sheng persimmonhas exceptionally large, glossy green leaves, moderate fall coloration and bears 3-4″ orange fruit that linger well after frost and of course, a winter landscape should not exclude Arp Rosemary, a plantwinter-hardy through Zone 6 that has handsome bushy spruce-like leaves.”
Although evergreen trees and shrubs remain prominent contributors to a winter landscape, larger, cover-story trees should not only be installed to add texture or frame a garden but provide winter shelter for birds and, if strategically selected, become food sources. “Most nut-bearing trees,” says McConkey bear well-past frost. And, their bounty could either remain untouched as a habitat food source or be harvested for human consumption. Under-story trees and shrubs are another layer of habitat which if berry-bearing, bring into the landscape further opportunities for contrast of color and texture.”
As gardeners, we not only have opportunities to make a difference through landscape choices but influence others to create an eco-legacy of healthy green space, both rural and urban. To identify additional eco tips and strategies, visit web site TheWrightScoop.
Side Bar: Recommended Resource: Edible Landscaping, www.ediblelandscaping.com , 1-800-524-4156