Planting A Winter Garden

The winter garden does not have to be boring or bare. By planting the proper mix of trees and shrubs, you can enjoy beauty year around.

Many people ignore their garden in the winter. The feeling is that once the flowers fade and the leaves die away there is nothing of interest in the garden. Nothing could be further from the truth. Against the stark backdrop of snow and earth, you can plant a variety of plants that will add dimension to your garden.

When choosing trees and shrubs for your winter garden, you should choose those that will add to the appearance of your garden year around. The blueberry bush is a rewarding shrub in that it has lovely white flowers in the spring, blueberries in the summer and brilliant red foliage in the fall. In the winter, its red stems and unique shape is a lovely addition to your garden. Likewise, the flowering dogwood tree is a true four-season plant. It blooms very early in the spring with a gorgeous abundance of flowers, in the summer it's light green foliage is very attractive, the fall brings brilliant red berries that will attract birds, and in the winter it has a gorgeous shape and lovely bark color that will stand out well on snowy mornings.

The most important thing to remember when planting your winter garden is that there will be no leaves to hide the shape of these plants. The shape is what adds to the beauty of the plant. Keep this in mind when you are doing any pruning. Before you cut any limb, imagine how the tree will look with it gone. Do not let this make you timid about pruning, it is necessary, just put plenty of forethought into it. Another factor to consider is the basic structure of the tree. Imagine the tree as a skeleton, and attempt to provide a certain level of symmetry in its shape. If one side has many more branches or they are longer than the other side, this will effect the general appearance of the tree when there are no leaves to hide the structure.

You will also want to plan for a few evergreen trees or shrubs as well, as the greenery adds a nice contrast to the starkness of winter. Pine trees, cypress or juniper shrubs and even boxwood make nice choices. Evergreens are very similar to deciduous trees in maintenance and will benefit from the same care.

A last item to consider for your winter garden would be flowers. By staggering the plantings of your flowers and planning, it is possible to go only a few months in the winter with no flowers. Pansies and mums will thrive even through a light frost. To keep them hanging on a little while longer, cover them with newspapers or an old sheet on nights where frost is expected. Early blooming spring bulbs such as snowdrops and crocus can bloom while there is still snow on the ground. These can be hurried along a bit by making certain that you keep plenty of organic matter worked into the soil around the bulbs in the autumn. This adds a layer of insulation to the soil. There is also the Lenten rose, which is not a true rose, but a beautiful flower nonetheless. If it is planted in a protected area, such as against the house or fence, you can expect flowers for Christmas.

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