Color from your winter garden


At this time of year we’re already starting to get weary of winter’s drab color palette, and longing for spring color. Once Christmas decorations are put away for another year, seed catalogs will start arriving, with their photoshopped, color-enhanced temptations. Sunshiny days will be a rare treat. What to do about decorating your home’s interior during the drab months?

This is the time to seek out subtle color in the landscape around you. For those of us who love plants, there’s a certain thrill in walking around the winter garden. We can feel the turgid energy of bulbs emerging underfoot, see the swelling of leaf and flower buds, and mentally plan our spring gardening improvements. For those who look carefully, there is a rainbow of color all around us in the sleeping plant world.

Here’s a challenge: go outside with your pruners and find a bouquet! Hydrangea blooms are still standing tall. The dried blooms of Autumn Joy sedum are sturdy and strong. So are many of the ornamental grass seed plumes. Red-twigged dogwood stems, or the more subtle burgundy twigs of ninebark, make interesting spikes. Evergreen shrubs like holly, bayberry, and fluffy arborvitae are vibrant and green. Winterberry holly are loaded with neon red fruit. The native red cedar are sagging with fat blue-gray berries in an amazing display of fecundity.

As you drive past landscaped yards, keep an eye out for these and other plants that are showy during the bleak winter months. Perhaps you could make some room for them in your own landscape. Make a list of your favorites, to seek out during the spring nursery season.

Marjorie made a spectacular arrangement in a few minutes, using winter color from our own garden. There’s a photo of it next to this column. She found flower panicles from Hydrangea “Quickfire”, fronds from Miscanthus “Gracillimus”, and twigs from “Little Devil” ninebark. No, it’s not a full-color summer garden bouquet. It’s just a reminder that there’s beauty to be found in nature at any time of year.

Steve Boehme is a landscape designer/installer specializing in landscape “makeovers”. “Let’s Grow” is published weekly; column archives are online at For more information call GoodSeed Farm Landscapes at (937) 587-7021.

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