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.
FOR MORE WINTER INTEREST
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 http://www.ncsu.edu/jcraulstonarboretum/ 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