Looking Through (Ever)Green Colored Glasses

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Sometimes the winter weather outside is abysmal.

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Winter can cause bereavement for the color drenched gardens of spring and summer for some.

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But not here in the Fairegarden.

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Extensive research has included trying every single plant said to offer winter interest.

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Some of those plants turned out to be happy here, like Cornus sanguinea ‘Arctic Sun’.

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There have been failures and deaths along with the successes.

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While there are some winter flowering plants here, the real soldiers of the winter garden are those that have outstanding foliage.

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When I look out the windows or even get geared up and walk around in wind, snow, sleet, rain and dark of night, not to mention cold to get a closer look at the beloved garden, it is not a sea of brown. Note: Calluna vulgaris ‘Firefly’ is one of the most colorful of the heathers. It will form a more compact and tightly branched mound if pruned yearly after blooming. I wish someone had told me about that in the beginning, this little row of three would look much better with pruning from the start while they were small. Next time…

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This winter garden is viewed through green colored glasses, or it should be evergreen tints, or multi-hued lenses. The featured plant is Euphorbia characias ‘Silver Swan’.

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Texture, form, color and size all come into play.

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Blended and woven like a tapestry, it makes a gardener’s heart, and eyes glad.

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January 11, 2012 084 (2)
On a side note, the opening image shows the collection of blue pots in front of the house that are now planted with Yucca filamentosa ‘Colorguard’. Originally these same pots were planted with the similar but not nearly as beautiful Yucca filamentosa ‘Golden Sword’, shown here in a similar shot from one year ago, January 11, 2012. It hurt, both physically as well as emotionally to dig out perfectly healthy specimens and replace them with more expensive and smaller plants, but it was for the betterment of the winter garden. I gave the Golden Swords to offspring Semi, where they are resting comfortably on her dry hillside.

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Previously:
The How To Have Winter Interest series of posts:
How To Have Winter Interest With Non Green Evergreens
How To Have Winter Interest -Garden Grasses
How To Have Winter Interest-Seeing Green
How To Have Winter Interest-Shrubs Small And Large
How To Have Winter Interest-The Big Guys
How To Have Winter Interest-Hardscape

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This post would like to be considered as part of Pam at Digging’s Foliage Followup, featuring leaves after the flower show of Carol’s Bloom Day.

Frances

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22 Responses to Looking Through (Ever)Green Colored Glasses

  1. Christy says:

    Wonderful post! It is so nice that you have so much winter color. I especially like your walls. The one with the moss? growing out of it is spectacular and I love the little “rock” seat in front of it!

    Hi Christy, thanks so much. I love looking out the windows at the garden all of the time, even remodeled this house to have large expanses of glass that look upon the slope in back. Making the view more interesting in winter has been a goal for many years and it seems to have been met, finally. I had to look again at the photo you mention, with the mossy wall. That is a hypertufa trough that might suggest a bench. Directions for making one were written about here: http://fairegarden.wordpress.com/2012/07/27/how-to-make-a-hypertufa-trough/.
    Frances

  2. gail says:

    I so agree my friend, ‘Colorguard’ looks much better than the Plain Jane yucca in those lovely cobalt pots. I have three ‘Colorguard’ yuccas and they look good even in terracotta pots. Love Calluna vulgaris ‘Firefly’ and Euphorbia characias ‘Silver Swan’~They are wonderful for winter color and interest. xoxoxgail

    Hi Gail, thanks for your support on the switch! Golden Sword in the online photos were very similar to Colorguard, so similar that I believe they might have been switched at birth. HA My experience in these conditions showed Golden Sword not to be golden at all, or maybe the plants had been mislabeled. Colorguard is the Cadillac of yuccas!
    xoxoxo
    Frances

  3. Lola says:

    Arctic Sun, Firefly & those gorgeous blue pots would be a favorite. You have so many lovelies to look at.

    Hi Lola, thanks for stopping by. The blue pots do stand out nicely against that Tennessee mountain stone facade. Now, with Colorguard holding the fort, they look even better.
    Frances

  4. I have been giving more thought to winter interest, too, which is often late fall/early winter and late/winter early spring interest when it comes to plants, because they are covered for much of winter. How to have interest with a foot of snow on the ground is trickier. So far I have come up with attracting birds, woodies with sculptural branches or colorful berries that persist a long time.

    Hi Kathy, thanks for sharing your experiences here. I agree completely with your methods about birds, branches and berries. All of those are wonderful for adding winter interest, even with snow cover. Hardscape and evergreens that catch the snow could be considered, as well. Who knows how much snow cover will still be around with the weather we have been having lately. There is no normal anymore.
    Frances

  5. Cindy says:

    The Color Guard yuccas definitely pop against that wall far better than the Golden Swords! Love that heather.

    Hi Cindy, thanks. I believe I had just made that yucca switch when you and Gail were here in May. Worth the effort and cash to make the switch, yes.
    Frances

  6. Scott says:

    I wish I could grow Heathers…I’ve tried several times…and they always died. Actually, the last time I planted one, it was in a container…and it was stolen!

    Hi Scott, thanks for dropping by, and sorry about your heather! Heaths and heathers are somewhat picky about their needs, acid soil, excellent drainage but water well when getting established and not too hot. We are at the edge with that last one, zone 7, almost too hot for them in our dry summers.
    Frances

  7. I too think the moss wall and ‘Colorguard’ are terrific. In addition to moss, what is growing against the risers of the stone stairs?

    Hi Marian, thanks. This is moss time around here with out north facing slope. It just appears without me doing anything, the best type of gardening. The purple leafed plant on the stair risers is Ajuga reptens.
    Frances

  8. ‘Colorguard’ is a much better choice. You were right to be brave. Winter interest in Tennessee is quite different from winter interest in Ontario, but your main point is the same: plan for winter! It’s too oft forgotten.

    Thanks Helen. All gardening advice is local, but thinking about what your garden needs, which colors, shapes and textures and what will grow where you live are the same steps we can all take for a prettier winter view.
    Frances

  9. Your gardens look wonderful. Mine are buried under snow except for this little January thaw we enjoyed. I can point to the red stems on the red osier dogwood, the peeling bark on the ninebark, and the evergreen shrubs. There are indoor potted plants, but they don’t come close to the color you’re enjoying. Maybe I’ll tape pictures of plants in the windows.

    Hi Jackie, thanks for visiting. Your winter interest sounds delightful. The red osiers don’t like it here much, but the yellowish sanguineas do, thank goodness. Evergreens are often underrated by beginning gardeners, all they want are flowers. That makes for a boring winter garden, usually.
    Frances

  10. Just love the multi toned greens with velvety textures of the mosses. They are so shy and unobtrusive much of the year and then, come winter, the perfect conditions allow them to “blossom” forth so delightfully! The Colorguard Yucca in the blue pots are perfection and the stacked stone wall is stunning.

    So true, Michaele, about the mosses. They are a main reason we see more green than brown in most of the gardens here, the colors are outstanding. The stacked stone wall was a splurge when we added on to the house, but both my husband and I love it so.
    Frances

  11. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    You do have some awesome winter color. I too try to have winter color. Have a great weekend.

    Hi Lisa, thanks for stopping by, you too have a lovely weekend. I am glad to hear you have some winter color, as well. It makes the cold season go my more quickly, I think, to have stuff to look at. Of course, there are always the birds!
    Frances

  12. Mark and Gaz says:

    A lovely post, you’ve done so well to achieve so much colour in your garden in the winter!

    Thanks Mark and Gaz, for those kind words. It has been a process, figuring out what would live here and also provide color during the winter months, but we have made progress.
    Frances

  13. My Kids Mom says:

    “It hurt, both physically as well as emotionally to dig out perfectly healthy specimens and replace them” That makes me laugh, so true for all of us gardeners. But you shared it with Semi, so you merely let it get adopted by a family that could appreciate it more than you. All good. It was the living pansies that I’d have to toss to make room for summer annuals that I found unbearable. I finally figured out a way to avoid it. I have to wait until a plant is dead before I’ll pitch it. I have added a few of the euphorbias to my shopping list b/c of you. I need to get on that!

    Hi Jill, thanks for feeling my pain! I totally understand about the pansies, it is the same here when the time comes to switch out the containers to color summer annuals. Sometimes the pansies, mostly violas are stuck in the ground to die a slow but more discreet death, but they seldom last in the ground once the heat gets here. Do look for the Euphorbias, even as annuals, they are short lived, that give the garden a real punch.
    Frances

  14. indygardener says:

    Great idea to find more plants with winter interest. I need to do that here!

    Hi Carol, thanks for stopping by. If there is no snow cover, or even if there is, forms, textures, hardscape, evergreens, berries all can add to the enjoyment from inside the house. Let’s not for get the birds!
    Frances

  15. Sandy & Richard says:

    Hi Frances, Your stone wall is truly stunning, I love structures in a garden, and especially love stone, with the blue pots set in front of it, it is perfect, the Yucca ‘Colorguard’ adds to the structural element.
    I see in one image peeping in, the blue face on the pot….the one I love so much, maybe being a potter I’m drawn to your wonderful blue pots…..so vibrant against the green. Always a pleasure to walk through your garden with you. See you next time.

    Hi Sandy and Richard, thanks for visiting. The stone wall behind the blue pots is the facade of the front of the house, an addition that joined the main house to the garage. We splurged on it, and love the way it looks, local stone set by local craftsmen. Thanks for noticing the blue face pot at the corner of the shot, it was a pleasant surprise and makes me smile, too.
    Frances

  16. I marvel at the great foliage color of the Euphorbias. Really happy with the ones in my garden.

    Hi Janet, thanks for stopping by. I am so glad to hear you have some Euphorbias, they really add a lot to the garden every month of the year.
    Frances

  17. I definitely haven’t done as good of a job as you in finding plants with more winter interest. I’m pretty much happy with my Christmas Camellias and my citrus trees. I’d love to have more flowers in the winter though.

    Hi Nadia, thanks for stopping by. It has been a process, now going on 13 years of finding the plants and hardscape to make the garden interesting during the down time of winter. Camellias and citrus sounds quite exciting, and interesting to me!
    Frances

  18. Lovely – and the blue pots in particular (were worth the pain!)

    Hi Jack, thanks so much. I am happy with the switch to Color Guard in the blue pots, despite blood being drawn by the pointy ends!
    Frances

  19. Great post thanks. It is good to remember the simple plants that give so much joy in the winter.

    Hi Green Bench, thanks. The yuccas are perfect, and simple for permanent container plantings. They never get human watering and can take the cold of winter as well as the heat of summer here and look fabulous every single day. What more could we ask of a garden plant?
    Frances

  20. so nice to see winter interest without snow…lovely

    Hi Donna, thanks. Snow is not a part of our winter, usually, or it only lasts a very short time. The plants have to be strong enough to withstand cold without cover and look good doing so. I have searched out those that meet the criteria, but always am on the lookout for more.
    Frances

  21. Charlie says:

    I have found my winter walks through the Arboretum to be as pleasant as those in summer. Your photos are really amazing. The enjoyment of texture, color, and composition are important to this gardner, thank you for sharing.

    Hi Charlie, thanks. Winter walks are a special time, we can enjoy the details more when there is less explosion of buds and color.
    Frances

  22. RobinL says:

    Winter interest is how we scoff at those who think that gardens can only be interesting in summer. Ha! We know better.

    Hi Robin, thanks for stopping by. Winter interest does make for better views from the house, if one is so inclined that way. I love looking out, and going out when weather permits, and having something interesting to look at is gratifying. It does take some thought, but is worth the effort.
    Frances

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