The Plant Professionals: Winter Interest
Sunday, January 24, 2021


Planting shrubs that hold their berries into winter can add a lot of color and help feed the birds . 

Photo by Sergey Okhrymenko

By Kathy Valentine

What does your garden need to hold your visual interest once leaves come off the deciduous trees in the fall? Do you have strategically placed evergreens? From massive pine or spruce trees to yew or boxwood hedges, there are many options that hold their needles or leaves all year. There are even groundcovers and low accents like some euonymus and junipers that are evergreen.
Perennial grasses can hold their foliage upright till spring, and range from less than 12” to 8’ or more.
Used singly they make a statement, but as rows or groupings they can be very impressive. Some have interesting flower heads that remain until spring also, and the way the grasses move in a breeze can be beautiful year -round. They need to be cut down to almost ground level annually, but by waiting till early spring to cut them back, you can enjoy them nearly all year.
There are also many trees and shrubs that lose their leaves but have interesting bark . The white birch, quaking aspen and the coppery river birch have bark that is beautiful and worthy of a focal location.
Shagbark hickory and the sycamore have interesting bark as well, though both get very large and need lots of room. There are some smaller maples with speckled barks, pealing bark, etc. Stewartia, red twig dogwood, artic fire golden dogwood, and other shrubs can add color and interest.
Some trees have striking branching patterns, including pagoda dogwoods, Harry lauder’s Walking Stick
(contorted Filbert) , curly willow, weeping beech, Japanese maple or weeping cherry are standouts all year.
Planting shrubs that hold their berries into winter can add a lot of color and help feed the birds. Some examples that do well locally are ninebark, currents, native dogwoods, fragrant sumac or native shrub roses.
Another way to hold interest into winter is to keep a heater in your pond or birdbath, as the open water draws colorful birds and wildlife to the water source.
Notice your yard and garden this winter. Where do you need additional winter impacts? Make a plan now for spring planting.                
Kathy Valentine enjoys gardening and her family at her Watertown Township home. Her Michigan State University Horticulture degree was a beginning for a life of learning about and working with plants. Kathy is senior partner at The Plant Professionals located at 16886 Turner St, Lansing, MI 48906.  
It is an interior and exterior  landscape design , installation and service firm  also offering green walls and plants and flowers for events. She may be reached at 

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