Now is the time to take an honest look at your landscape. Do you see a sad bunch of dead-looking sticks and sprouting weeds or a bounty of interesting tree silhouettes, colorful leaves or bark, and even some blooming plants?
If things look grim, now’s the time to take stock! In addition to your own garden, look at others’ landscapes for plants, trees, shrubs, and bulbs that appeal to you and plan to add some for next year.
What to consider
In taking a look at your yard, note these features:
• The big picture—does your garden have good “bones” in winter? Now is the time you see if you have misplaced or overgrown trees and shrubs—and to do your winter pruning! Consider removing or replacing your mistakes to increase winter appeal.
• Perennials that go dormant gracefully—many perennials have “disappeared” because their foliage dies back and is easily removed—daylilies show how this can make a difference in how your garden looks in winter. Some daylilies go fully dormant here and as we approach spring begin to show fresh new leaves, while those that are semi-dormant or evergreen varieties may look less attractive throughout the winter.
Look for perennials that have neat rosettes of leaves that look fresh in winter or leaves that turn brighter colors. Bergenia is one popular garden ornamental that looks good at this time of year with its red/bronzy leaves. Some native plants that look tidy at this time of year include horsemint (Monarda punctata) and some Heucheras.
• Interesting bark—some native trees that have bark that draws attention in winter include hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana), river birch (Betula nigra), shagbark hickory (Carya ovata), sycamore (Platanus occidentalus.). Some desirable smaller ornamental trees are paperbark maple (Acer griseum) and crape myrtles (Lagerstroemia indica). Some native shrubs with attractive bark include the peeling bark of oakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia) and red stems of the redosier dogwood (Cornus sericea).
• Early bloomers—Among desirable ornamental small trees and shrubs that bloom in winter in Western North Carolina are Chinese witch hazel (Hamamelis mollis), corneliancherry dogwood (Cornus mas), paperbush (Edgeworthia chrysantha), pussy willow (Salix caprea), winter hazel (Corylopsis spicata), and winter jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum).
Perennials that bloom early include many hellebores (Helleborus spp.). Other plants that we see in winter bloom are tender perennials such as snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus), or reseeding annuals or biennials, such as pansies (Viola spp.).
Winter blooming bulbs include some crocus and daffodil species (Narcissus), and snowdrops (Galanthus spp.).
When to plant
You can plant many perennials, trees, and shrubs this spring if you keep them watered during dry spells. Order bulbs for planting in late fall.
Article by Debbie Green Extension Master Gardener Volunteer
For more information:
Do You Know How to Properly Plant Trees and Shrubs?https://wilkes.ces.ncsu.edu/2015/04/do-you-know-how-to-properly-plant-trees-and-shrubs/
Spring-Flowering Bulbs: Trials in North Carolina https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/spring-flowering-bulbs-trials-in-north-carolina