Winter Garden

by Angela Lassam
It’s Still Just Dirt, The Tillsonburg News – November 2017


We are now going into a slow time for any gardener. When the snow comes, the ice rain or just a good frost our garden takes on a very different view. With a little ingenuity it can be made to come alive and interesting. We have a variety of shrubs, trees and plants that add both colour and structure to the landscape outside our windows. It is a time to take notice where there is an uninteresting spot and plan a future purchase for a new focal point. Maybe you can place a floodlight to highlight an unusual planting. Perhaps think of an item of steel, wood or cast concrete to add to the appearance of your own garden.

For colour there are many shrubs which keep their red color. We all know the dogwoods, holly (newer varieties do not need two bushes), burning bush and barberry. There is a yellow dogwood which would stand proud in the snow. Consider a yew that has yellow tips that can peak through the snow. Many evergreens can be trimmed to form shapes for year round interest.

Euonymus is an easy shrub to grow and keeps its variegation over the winter. It can be used to add interest to Christmas arrangements. There are spiky plants that are variegated like iris and yucca.

Trees that show well in winter are the weeping branch type and usually grafted (I have a lilac). Just to name a few that we are familiar with – Weeping Alaska Cedar (Nootka False Cypress), weeping copper beech for both leaves and draping appearance and Japanese larch. Snow looks great on all weeping trees as does an ice storm. Japanese maples seem to hold snow on them and look great at night under floodlights.

Some trees keep their fruit throughout the winter giving us a different view to summertime. A corkscrew witch hazel tree is both interesting in structure and also keeps some tassel-like flowers. Honey locust has long flat pods. A crabapple tree holds its tiny apples. One named Harvest Gold has clusters of small yellow apples. A viburnum called American Cranberry Bush is very showy. Winterberry  ‘Winter Red’ has branches with many red berries. Cotoneaster has many red berries and can be a shrub or groundcover. All of these feed the birds and give us life to watch in our gardens.

Many ornamental grasses left with their feather tops add interest to the winter garden as do the dead heads of many perennials. Sea holly and echinacea both look interesting poking up through the snow. You can leave the dead heads of allium as they can also look attractive.

There is no monthly meeting for December. The Christmas Potluck Supper (for members only) is on Tuesday December 5th @ 6 p.m. in the Lions Auditorium, Tillsonburg Community Complex. The next monthly meeting will be Tuesday January 2, 2018 @ 7.30 p.m. in the Senior Centre. Speaker will be Jane Magri from Wildflowers Teas. Topic is Tea and Remedies for Wellbeing. Remember it is time to renew your membership to get all benefits the society has to offer. For more information follow us on facebook – tillsonburghorticultural or online