November 25th, 2014
After last week’s frigid blast and our own pre-Thanksgiving snow storm on the heels of Buffalo’s 6-footer, it seems that winter has come.
This is a time when energetic gardeners are sad to see the leaves drop and rapidly aging ones are glad for some rest.
Either way, winter tends to be the forgotten season in central-Pennsylvania landscapes.
Back when winter-long snow-covers were the rule, plants and their leafless skeletons were little more than different forms of white sticking out above the snowy sea. So what was the point in trying to make winter plant life look good?
But now that winters typically give us at least periodic spells of bare ground, the winter landscape is no longer a three-month write-off.
Free of white frosting, a surprising number of plants look pretty decent in winter. But unless you get lucky, it takes planning to have a landscape that makes the most of our fourth season.
Needled evergreen trees and shrubs are the most obvious example. Relegated to background and screening status during the growing season, evergreens take on starring roles when the flowers die back.
We’ve got much more to pick from than just green evergreens, though. Choices also come in shades of blue and gold, not to mention a wide range of shapes, textures and growing habits.
Blue junipers, blue spruce, concolor fir and blue cedars are needled evergreens at their best after a snow – or spotlighted at night by landscape lights.
Golden- and yellow-needled Hinoki cypress, goldthread cypress and junipers are superb for adding bright color during those snow-free periods when the predominant color is lifeless brown.
Toss in broadleaf evergreens such as hollies, rhododendrons, boxwoods, cotoneaster and cherry laurel, and you’ve got plenty to give structure and life to the winter landscape.