The Winter Garden: Landscapes for Cold Weather The Winter Garden: Landscapes for Cold Weather
What to you do when the green foliage has disappeared and all life lies seemingly dormant? You rely on other plant features to attract the eye; you emphasize your garden's life that is apparent in such characteristics as ornamental fruit, perhaps, or the striking texture of bark. Deciduous trees lose their leaves for the winter only to reveal their structure, form and texture - they may present a starker reality for the tree or shrub, but they also demonstrate a visible prominence in the landscape. Consequently, when planning your garden, remember to consider how your tree will look ... naked! Unusual form, interesting bark texture will play an especially fine role in your cold-weather landscape.
Of course, there is nothing like a snowfall to gently clothe the "bones" of your winter garden - layers of snow that rest in the crevices of tree limbs, the lovely contrast that the bright white makes against the dark bark. It's striking and also easy enough for the gardener, since it's all mother nature's doing at that point. Quite similarly, dangling icicles become winter's jewels and this, too, accentuates the loveliness of a winter garden. Your woody plants may not flower, but their bare structures and in some cases, even fruit, offer an alternative stage of beauty.
Form and structure are captivating aspects of winter trees. Trees with irregular growth patterns offer the most visual interest. Also, trees with various layers of branches look as though they form mazes for winter animals to race. The Persian parrotia is a medium size tree whose branches twist and spread in irregular patterns making it perfect for a prominent position in your landscape.
Certainly, the larger varieties of trees produce the most dramatic effects in a winter garden. Beech trees grow gracefully with their branches smoothly in pleasing patterns. Often you see these stately trees in parks because of their size and magnificent stature. They also enjoy a long life if properly cared for and they thrive in a moist loamy that is well-drained.
The red and white oak are also very much form exhibitionists in winter. Their thick trunk and base upon maturity offers a mighty presence in any landscape. Their limbs are some of the thickest of deciduous trees and they often grow in long curvy lines that make their forms very singular; it would seem that no two grow anything alike and this provides great interest for onlookers who may marvel at such surprising shape and contrast in your garden.
Consider a tree's bark as an interesting focal point in your garden. Whether thick or thin, smooth or textured, it will provide a view that is normally hidden in other seasons. What's more, some bark is actually quite ostentatious in color; consider the coral bark maple's decidedly red bark that is utterly surprising in a winter landscape. This particular tree reaches anywhere between 20 and 25 feet and is a stunning selection for a front lawn where it will doubtless be a four-season focal point. The cutleaf Japanese maple boasts a smooth silvery bark that sports limbs that often twist making for a natural sculpture in the garden.
Another great choice to emphasize the beauty of bark is the stunning birch whose white bark is ideal for a winter landscape. These northern climate trees are really the essence of the winter landscape with their delicate presence. Various birch species offer peeling bark that makes quite a display. The heritage birch has smooth peeling bark and the paper birch exposes a thin layer of bark that peels in smooth strips.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of winter plants is the fruit produced by some species. This cold-weather mercy bursts with color and it is as attractive to onlookers as it is to winter birds that appreciate the nourishment. Red chokecherry produces clusters of glossy fruit that lasts into early winter. This multi-stemmed shrub makes a wonderful grouping or border when planted in small masses.
The sugar tyme crabapple is one of the most striking winter fruit producing trees. The large berries of deep red dangle in lush groupings that ripen in autumn and usually persist through the winter. The Bodinier beautyberry produces large clusters of purple berries that are quite breathtaking in the winter sun.
Finally, nothing seems more right in the winter landscape than the many varieties of evergreen trees and shrubs. Their glorious testament to green makes them the perfect four-season choice for any landscape. The needle-like foliage of the cone-producing conifers offers an elegant focal point in your yard. Evergreen conifers like the fir offer tall pyramidal shapes that thrive in cooler climates. The broadleaf evergreens are also popular in winter landscapes. One can hardly think of winter without conjuring up visions of conifers.
Too create your own pleasing winter landscapes, research your area to see what trees and shrubs do best in your climate taking care to consider soil and lighting. Visiting parks and other winter gardens in cold weather may offer you many choices when it comes to selecting plants for your own area. The possibilities are many and the benefits of beauty are great.
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