The topic today is winter garden interest and how to get it for your own space. The current Fairegarden is lucky enough to be situated in the relative mildness of zone 7a southeast Tennessee. Winter visits here with sub-freezing temperatures for extended periods, bringing with it not months or weeks of snow cover, but a few hours, at most a day or two. This is enough chill for bulbs that need the long periods of dormancy to trigger blooming, such as tulips, or for flowering shrubs that need a cold naptime like lilacs to do their thing. But there is enough warmth for many leaves to remain fresh and vibrant during what is considered the gardening off season. We have already covered low growing plants that sport winter color other than green, and grasses in previous posts, links can be found at the end of this story. Attention will now be turned to the greens, those things that give true meaning to to term Evergreen.
Biennials are a grand addition to any garden. Seeds germinate in the warmth of summer and autumn, pushing up greenery that will last through winter and bloom the next spring. Among those valuable evergreen biennials that are growing happily here, self sowing themselves around and about with reckless and design-less abandon are foxgloves, Digitalis ssp., Campanula ssp., money plant, Lunaria biennis, and Nigella damascena, shown above. Not shown but also growing happily here are forget me nots, Myosotis ssp.
Perennial evergreen plants are more reliable and tend to better stay where planted, although some self sowing is welcome. Plants in the Pennstemon family, like P. digitalis ‘Husker Red’ make fine additions to the winter display, as do members of the bearded Iris and Achillea clan. The Gravel Garden is a haven for evergreen foliage with the contrast of the stones highlighting the leaves.
Helleborus orientalis, with the largest leaf and most numerous minions through years of self sowing make up the backbone of the slope behind the main house. The leathery leaves are sometimes cut off before the late winter blooming begins, for a neater appearance, but it is not necessary to do so. In fact, the cutting of the Hellebore leaves used to be a rite of passage for the new year’s gardening season to begin, until there were so many plants of blooming size that the task became too daunting for an aging gardener.
Evergreen and extremely hardy when planted in well drained soil, this perennial offers the bonus of February, sometimes even January flowers, depending on the weather. To read the entire saga on this subject click here-Cutting Of The Hellebores (2008),
here-Cutting The Hellebores-2009 Edition and/or
here-Hellebore Experiment-The Results (2010) for the final say on the matter.
Other perennials with evergreen foliage that persist well into winter before dying back to small rosettes of living plant material include Rue, Eyrngiums, Columbines, Primulas and it is hoped the new this year Sanguisorba will grace the garden with its fern like self. Also Rudbeckia lanciniata and various Geum ssp., among others will give those spurts of green that are so appreciated in the time of grey and browns.
There are many other bits of green patiently waiting for spring in the garden beds, like the native iris relative Blue Eyed Grass, Sisyrinchium angustifolium and wallflowers, Erysimum ssp. shown above. Locating these plants and adding them to your gardens will help to give your eye something to look at that will bring a smile while you wait for spring.
Previous posts in the How To Have Winter Interest series can be found below and in the How To category on the sidebar:
How To Have Winter Interest With Non Green Evergreens
How To Have Winter Interest -Garden Grasses
How To Have Winter Interest-Shrubs Small And Large
How To Have Winter Interest-The Big Guys
How To Have Winter Interest-Hardscape
For other posts written by Fairegarden, look for How To on the sidebar page listing or click here.