Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but can you find beauty in the straw brown landscape of a January garden? A landscape is designed for many seasons of interest. The anticipation of spring flowers, the textures and lush green of summer leaves, and the striking contrasts of burgundy, orange and yellow in October. The balance of winter color is usually accomplished with evergreens, but doesn’t always have to be. A perennial loving gardener with an appreciation for the structures of plants can still have a beautiful winter garden among the dry neutrality of frozen beds. Here are a few of my favorite perennials in winter.
1. Purple Coneflower:
While the petals fade away, the cones are food for birds in winter. They provide an interesting rounded texture and have a dark brown color to contrast the lighter straw colored foliage.
2. Sea Holly
These seed heads have an interesting configuration clumped together and give the same texture as the coneflower. They stand up well against snow.
3. Annabelle Hydrangea
The large white blooms of the Annabelle Hydrangea fade to cream, then green, then finally brown. By winter they are a mere skeleton of themselves. Though not a perennial, these shrubs do get cut down in the spring to provide sturdy stems. Dried fall blooms also make beautiful dried flower bouquets for the house.
3. Ornamental Grasses
The taller of the grasses will get matted down after heavy snow, but until then, the seed heads, and thin blades collect the flakes until they create a beautiful canvas for freshly fallen snow. The front perennial in this photo is sedum which also collects snow beautifully.
How about a perennial that remains green all winter. This low growing groundcover keeps most of its color in the winter and is better than looking at old sun bleached mulch.