Frost glistening from the branches to a dusting of snow on the tips of evergreens, the beauty of plants in the winter is endless. Take note of winter landscapes and what characteristics you most enjoy. Note branching habits, color, unusual bark, persisting seeds and berries, or swaying seed heads of ornamental grasses. These features keep our landscapes alive and interesting throughout the winter months.
Winter is a great time to appreciate landscape plants for more than their flowers and foliage. Many landscape plants have beauty we only can enjoy during the winter. It may be the exfoliating bark of the River Birch, the bright red stems of Red Twig Dogwood or the red berries against the rigid leaves of holly. There are thousands of plants for landscape winter interest. Don’t forget the grasses and other small rock garden plants. Other winter-loving plants show their beauty in the early spring, with colorful flowers bursting out against the starkness of the season. Winter landscapes have much to offer. Not only is there beauty in the plants, they offer habitat and food for wildlife.
The next time you are selecting plants for your landscape, be sure to consider the winter beauty. There are many great plants to choose from for a Michigan winter. Most of Michigan is in zone 5 according to the USDA Hardiness Zone map.
Here are some excellent plants for winter interest in your landscape:
- Paperbark Maple (Acer grisium)
- Threadleaf Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum dissectum)
- Red Chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia)
- Blue Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica "Glauca")
- Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick (Corylus avellana "Contorta")
- Winter Daphne (Daphne odora) Fragrant
- Common Snow Drops (Galanthus nivalis)
- Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)
- Christmas Rose (Helleboris niger)
- Chinese witch-hazel (Hamamelis mollis)
- Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticillata) Need female and male plant
- Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides)
Michigan winters are long, but having the beauty of plants reminds us spring will be here soon. For now, get out and enjoy what the Michigan landscape has to offer.
(This article was written by Dixie Sandborn, Michigan State University Extension)