November 19, 2009 at 8:26 a.m.

Planning for winter garden beauty

Planning for winter garden beauty
Planning for winter garden beauty

There may be many reasons why the colors were not as vivid this fall, but they just were not. I am being a bit sarcastic when I say the only sunny day in October made for a beautiful sight, as the radiant yellow leaves of our birch trees shone against the sun. The yellowish leaves of the Norway maple stand out as one of the last species of leaves to fall before winter.

This is the time of year to look at which trees and shrubs keep their color and or berries throughout the winter. When you make out your planning and planting list for the coming year, some of these plants may be on your list.

I have a strip of lawn between my rows of blueberries and in the fall the green lawn with a background of scarlet blueberry leaves is great. What's even more beautiful are those leaves as the background for the white snow (that I hope we get) to cover those blueberries. Blueberry leaves turn from green to scarlet in the fall and remain on the bushes throughout the winter. I mention covering those beautiful leaves with snow because blueberries form fruit buds in the fall and if they are not protected, it will affect fruit production next summer.

Not far from our apple trees are two large mountain ash trees that are so loaded with clusters of berries that from a distance people thought they were apples. They are loaded every year and although the leaves fall the berries remain on the trees until the birds eat them.

One of the most colorful year-round plants is the dogwood. I say plants because some say the dogwood is a tree while some say it is a shrub. There are some 50 species of dogwoods so check with your local nursery as to which are best for our area.

Legend has it that the gnarled crooked dogwood was a tree that grew tall and straight but became gnarled when chosen for the cross of Christ. More interesting is that the dogwood blooms are a crown of thorns surrounded by four blooms that look like a cross with a nail scar at the tip. Another Easter legend is that the floral "blood droplets" came from the old word "dag", meaning a skewer to hold meat together.

The flowering dogwood, also called white dogwood, is one of America's most loved small trees. Its popularity is due to its beauty in all seasons. In the spring it has white blooms from late March to mid-May. In the summer it has green foliage with small, smooth leaves with a pointy tip. The fall fruit is berry-like, bright red, oval-shaped clusters that remain for the wildlife long after leaf drop.

The red osier dogwood shrub has green foliage in the summer and the bark turns a bright red come winter. The Tatarian dogwood creates a beautiful border with its crimson stems that stay bright all winter.

If you are planning for fall and winter beauty, also consider European cranberry, sour cherry, flowering crab, along with those mentioned in this article. As you browse through nursery catalogs you may find many more choices. Remember to consult local nurseries up front with you on what plants are best for our area, and who will stand behind their product.


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