Garden Coaching – Gardening for Winter Interest

For the half of the United States who must contend with reading seed catalogues in the winter, my condolences.  In Raleigh, NC we got the weather to garden year ’round, the universities producing the next generation of garden professionals, nurseries, garden centers, garden clubs and garden enthusiasts, second to none.

One of my most popular garden talks is on adding winter interest to the landscape.  On a very winter-like day yesterday, I gave a talk to a garden club in Elon, NC.  The ladies were surprised to learn (as most who are new to this topic are) of the variety of plants they can grow in their garden to add winter interest.  As they watched, they realized that with a little effort in plant selection and placement, they could enjoy their garden year ’round.  Below is a list of plants I presented to these ladies.

I’m sure I can add to this list, but I took the lazy way out and only presented plants I actually have in my winter garden.  Enjoy!

Gardening With Confidence ™

Adding Winter Interest to the Garden

Fragrance and Color

· Paper bush, Edgeworthia ‘Gold Rush’

· Daphne, Daphne odora ‘Variegata’

· Japanese flowering apricot, Prunus mume

· Hardy Cyclamens, Cyclamen hederifolium and Cyclamen coum

· Early Snowdrops Galanthus woronowii

· Camellia Sasanqua flowering first then giving over to Camellia Japonica


· Forsythia first part of March

· Crocus

· Winter aconite, Eranthis hyemalis

· Contorted Crab Apple, Malus ‘Red Jade’

· Yellow white pine, Pinus strobes ‘Hillside Winter Gold’

· Red twig dogwood


· Nandinas

· Hellebores (niger and orientalis).

· Weeping Willow with red stems, Scarlet Curls Salix matsudana ‘Scarlet Curls’

· Giant Yellow Jonquils for naturalizing (Daffodils) March 1st and even earlier in some years. February’s Gold

· Coral Bark Maple, Acer palmatum ‘Sango Kaku’

· Winterberry holly, Ilex verticillata ‘Winter Red”

· Flowering Quince, Chaenomeles speciosa

· Loropetalum Chinense ‘Pink Form’

· Blue Atlas Cedar, Cedrus atlantica ‘Pendula’

· Abelia grandiflora ‘Little Richard’ with nice red stems

· Variegated Juniper, Juniperus squamata expansa ‘Parsonii Variegata’

· Ajuga ‘Burgundy Glow’

· For color anytime GARDEN ACCENTS: Joel Haas Butterfly, gazing balls, Amelia Lane and Beth Jimenez’s red Hosta Leaf, bunnies, cats, hummingbirds, and Phil Hathcock’s Natural stone sculptures and much more.

Interesting Textures and Form

· Fig ‘Brown Turkey’

· Harry Lauder Walking stick

· herbs, esp. the Rosemary (upright and weeping),

· Santolina

· Thymes

· Parsley

· Mahonia


· Southern Magnolia. Don’t underestimate the charms of the Magnolia grandiflora. It shines in every season, but I really value it in the winter landscape.

· Cast-iron Plant, Aspidistra elatior – Nice for the evergreen color.

· Clematis Armandii – I like the leaf in any season with sensational fragrant flowers in the spring, but love the green leaves in the winter.

· Pieris japonica

· Chinese Windmill Palm, Trachycarpus fortunei. Wonderful to see covered in snow!


· Dwarf Mondo grass, Ophiopogon japonicus planted between my pavers

· Sky Pencil Holly, Ilex crenata

· Gardenia – great evergreen shrub – not used nearly enough. I think it is taken for granted and needs to be seen with new eyes.

· Oak (Georgia I think) it has a classic Oak leaf shape and keeps it leaves through the winter making a wonderful noise in the breeze.

· Bark of the Crape Myrtle, Lagerstroemia ‘Natchez’

· Espalier Fuji apple against the house

· Climbing Hydrangea, Hydrangea anomala petiolaris against the house

· Ferns – Autumn, Dryopteris erythrosora; Holly, Polystichum falcatum; Christmas, Polystichum acrostichoides

· Fatsia japonica tropical looking evergreen shrub in a shady protected area

· Big leaf magnolia, Magnolia macrophylla – nice to see the interesting trunk in the winter

· Weeping Winged Elm, Ulmus atala with ‘wings’ on the branches very interesting bark texture for the winter garden

· Smilax is evergreen and has berries for the birds

· Japanese umbrella pine, Sciadopitys verticillata

· Oakleaf Hydrangea, Hydrangea quercifolia

· Various Sedums

· Japanese maples, Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’

· Hindu-Pan Scotch Pine and Hillside Creeper Scotch Pine (Pinus sylevstris)

· Black Dragon Cryptomeria, Cryptomeria japonica ‘Black Dragon’

· Weeping Cypress, Taxodium distichum ‘Cascade Falls’

· Weeping Cherry, Prunus x ‘Snow ‘Pendula’

· Hinoki Cypress, Chamaecyparis obtuse

· Grasses – I have a very nice dwarf Pampas grass I got from the JCRA Gala held the first Sunday of May and Muhly Grass, Muhlenbergia caillaris ‘Regal Mist’

· Chocolate vine, Akebia

· Arum

· Aucuba japonica nice red berries and variegated leaves

· Barberry ‘Pigmy’

· Periwinkle, ’Vinca minor’

· Jasmine, confederate, star; Carolina Jessamine

· Johnny-jump-ups

· Tea Olive, Osmanthus fragrans

· Evergreen Host or Sacred Lily, Rhodea japonica

· Creeping raspberry, Rubus pedalobus

· Yew

JCRA Winter Garden Lecture

A walk in the Winter Garden, February 15, 2009 (Sunday)

Friends of the Arboretum Lecture – 1:00 PM

“Beyond Dwarf Alberta: Conifers for Every Garden”

Mark Weathington, Assistant Director and Curator of Collections

Tours – 2:00 PM, 2:30 PM, and 3:00 PM

Plant Sale – 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM


For more information contact Chris Glenn (919) 513-7005



  1. tina said

    You have so many great plants growing in your garden. I am with you, stick with what you know best and who could possibly add to this list? I love the big leaf magnolia. It is a neat tree not many grow. A beautiful tree too. Your garden must be so awesome!

  2. Thanks Tina, I love a winter garden. I think reason I do is because I hate winter. I have to do something to pass the time. I could go skiing, but that cost too much, I can’t go south, cuz I still have kids in school, so I must garden.

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: