Discover delights of winter’s landscapes


By Pam Baytos

OSU Ext. master gardener volunteer

We used to be winter people, skiing in Vermont, ice skating, and sledding. As we’ve gotten older, I think we’re beach people now. Fear not: I’ve repurposed skis, skates and sled as holiday decorations and we still enjoy the sights of winter!

Winter landscapes offer plenty of reasons to bundle up and get out to explore your gardens. You don’t have to spend the whole day outside – a brisk trip around your yard or a drive into an unexplored neighborhood will allow you to find winter’s beauty. Even if you just look around while taking a break from shoveling snow I’m sure something will catch your eye.

Large evergreens and cedars add architectural structure and are great backgrounds when covered in a fresh blanket of snow. Trees with interesting features of textured or exfoliating bark, contorted limbs of Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick, and trees with unique branching habits are all highlighted by the absence of leaves.

A layer of shrubs brings your eyes down towards the “floor” of your landscape. Many shrubs have bright berries or branches that stand out against the white snow. Winterberry, holly, firethorn, witch hazel and the stems of colored twig dogwoods are a few to have in your landscape for the great contrasts of color.

You can add texture and movement by leaving through the winter dormant perennials such as black-eyed Susan’s, coneflowers, ornamental grasses and hydrangeas, which not only add vertical elements, but food and shelter for birds.

If you don’t have a large yard, just adding colorful containers filled with natural elements will enhance your entryway and catch snow for a wintery show. Cutting greens, interesting branches, stems of berries, grass seed heads and any other filler you can collect will fashion a wonderful natural container. Every year in November our garden art series at the extension office offers a holiday container class if you feel you need some guidance to assemble your container.

Trees, shrubs and plants aren’t the only beauty in winter. Nothing is more beautiful than a bright red cardinal against a snowy background. Birds bring life and activity to our winter gardens. By feeding our feathered friends we extend winter interest. Adding a source of water is a great way to attract them too.

Other items that can be added to your yard are permanent garden accents. Garden art, pottery, obelisks and bird houses, among other things, add interest as they become covered with a layer of snow.

As you take a winter adventure in your garden or other places, take along a camera to capture the wonder of snow in your landscape. Bringing out your photos to enjoy in the middle of a hot summer will remind you of the cool relief of winter weather here at home.

Learn about some shrubs you can add to the winter landscape at: http://go.osu.edu/winterlandscape

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