Metro Magazine – Winter Interest Under Way for Umstead Hotel and Spa

Winter Interest Under Way For Umstead Hotel and Spa

In the winter, the garden is often thought of as the pause season until spring returns; an interruption in the time when a garden can be beautiful.  Often, the winter season isn’t based on the solstice, but rather, from first to last frost; too long a pause not to plan for the season.

With the fine weather we experience from the Triangle to the coast, we have the potential to garden year round.  No snow to compete with, we can add to the landscape so that our gardens can be just as interesting in winter as they are in spring, summer or fall.  What you do in winter, will also enhance other season’s appeal.

Even with a professional design, the winter interest aspects are often overlooked.  It’s never too late to evaluate your garden’s winter appeal.

The Umstead Hotel and Spa, in Cary, NC, recently did just that.  Landscape designer, Suzanne Edney, of Custom Landscapes, Inc., was brought in to evaluate and add winter interest elements to the 6 acres surrounding the Five Star hotel.

“My mission was to give a ‘sense of place’ by using cultivars and ornamentals that have characteristics of North Carolina plants,” says Suzanne.  Working directly with Ann Goodnight, Suzanne evaluated and added to the existing design.  What Suzanne found was many of the plants used in the original design were deciduous perennials, therefore, the landscape looked bare from December to April.  Suzanne’s design added to the ground plane and broke up a single plane of plantings.

This sense of place is an important factor for hotels of this caliber. As Suzanne explained, “When you arrive at The Umstead Hotel and Spa, you want to know that your are in NC, not in Italy or Miami or some other place.”

Plum yew, juniper, and Hellebores were some of the ground covers used in the design along with boulders to fill voids while giving the eye a restful place to pause.  Grasses were added to give movement, evergreen vines, perennials and shrubs such as Clematis Armandii, poet’s laurel, Fatsia, roof iris, Spirea, and Deodara Cedar were added for winter interest and to add rhythm to the design.

Implantation of the design began this fall and will continue through the winter.  It will be most interesting to visit often during this time to see how the transformation progresses.

Now and after the holidays is a great time to evaluate your winter landscape.  Plan on making your winter more interesting with plants and other elements such as boulders, benches, or accents.  You too will be enjoying your garden all winter long.


The JC Raulston Arboretum hosts an annual A Walk in the Winter Garden program in February each year.  Enjoy a winter garden themed presentation and tours and see what the winter garden has to offer.  Visit their Web site at for details

Helen Yoest is a garden writer and coach through her business Gardening with Confidence™

Follow Helen on Twitter @HelenYoest and her facebook friend’s page, Helen Yoest or Gardening With Confidence™ Face Book Fan Page.

Helen also serves on the board of advisors for the JC Raulston Arboretum



  1. […] Original post: Metro Magazine – Winter Interest Under Way for Umstead Hotel and … […]

  2. Jayme -NC said

    How wonderful! I know it will be amazing! We should go and celebrate there some time… the food is amazing and now the view even better! Congrats to the ever sensitive and creative Ms. Edney

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by GardeningGeek, mark mile, Trinity, ayesha rashid, Glenn Fournier and others. Glenn Fournier said: Metro Magazine – Winter Interest Under Way for Umstead Hotel and … […]

  4. Being retired from SAS (where the Umstead is located) I know that it is a beautiful setting. I’m sure Ms. Edney’s design elements will be wonderful there.


    • There have some other great things planned, I hear. I’m very excited to their commitment to are area’s aesthetics and wildlife. H.

  5. All gardens benefit from this kind of exercise now and then. Not to mention, things die, holes appear and opportunity waves. Great post.

    • Thanks CimS! I am planning to add more ground level plane interest to my mixed border this winner. But it needs to stop raining long enough to dry out so I can go find some boulders. H.

  6. joey said

    How true, your opening sentence, Helen … “In the winter, the garden is often thought of as the pause season until spring returns.” Here in Michigan, snow defines good bones in the garden and inspires the restless winter gardener. I love the elevated ‘bird’s eye’ view from my upstairs window! Happy Solstice 🙂

  7. […] This story about Suzanne Edney’s design is a good Garden Coaching lesson to evaluate your garden for winter interest.  Winter Interest Under Way for Umstead Hotel and Spa […]

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: