Continuing on the theme of color during the winter blahs, there are other ways of having color without flowers. Evergreens are the most common. However, some evergreens may also change color during cold weather. One of my favorite plants in my native garden is a white pine called Hillside Winter Gold. As cold weather starts to affect it, the needles start turning yellow. I have mine planted in a bed of Muhly grass. In the fall, the muhly grass seed heads turn pinkish of purple depending on your viewpoint. This contrasts nicely with the yellowing needles of the Hillside Winter Gold pine. As the cold weather continues, the needles turn more yellow and the muhly grass seed heads turn tan. I also have a viriginia pine called Wates Golden that also turns yellow in cold weather. The color is not as intense as the Hillside but it is usually attractive in it’s own right. These plants are barely noticed during the summer months but stand out quite nicely during the winter months. With warm weather, the needles turn back to green and they graciously slip back into the background and surrender the spotlight to the spring flowers.
This time of year, people think there is nothing to do in the garden. However, this is a very important time of year to study the basic design of your garden. This is the time of year to take notes on the skeleton or backbone of your garden. The bare bones so to speak, of your garden are quite obvious right now. Take a look around. Do you have enough evergreens to give color year round? Do those evergreens help define the smaller spaces within the garden? Evergreen plants also help provide cover for birds and other wildlife. They also help to block winds and can actually help to keep organic material in the form of fallen leaves in the garden rather than blowing onto neighboring property. A garden that looks quite good in the summer can look quite bare in the winter if care is not made with planting choices. I believe a garden is best when it changes throughout the seasons. A garden that looks the same year round is boring in my opinion. I try to have blooming plants on every day of the year. Last year I achieved that and so far this year, I have blooms every day. This winter has been a little tougher than normal in central North Carolina so it has been hard to do. Currently I have Yuletide Sasanqua blooming and also my swamp jessamine growing on my arbor leading to the native garden. Winter color is also helped by berries on the hollies and hawthorns. Some evergreens turn colors other than green with the onset of cold weather. All of this creates interest in a season which most gardeners tend to overlook. So take a look at your garden and make notes as to the places you can add color once the weather is more conducive to planting.