Plants with Winter Interest

Lately, our weather alternates between rainy and dry days. Today is a dry one although when I decided to go outside and work, it started raining. I stopped, came in and got into my comfy clothes, and of course the rain stopped. It is blustery and cold today so I said "screw it" and stayed inside.

I do love to look at gardens in the winter although I don't enjoy being out in the elements. I love that we have big windows in every room of our house and I like to gaze out at the garden. Bird watching is another favorite occupation.

It has been a very mild winter so far. If my memory serves me correctly, we've only had two or three nights below freezing. It will be interesting to see what January and February or even March will bring. 

Despite the winter gloom, the garden is quite green. And not just green but there is interest in deciduous plants as well. For example, the clematis 'Bill Mackenzie' (above) looks fantastic. There is the 'Sango Kaku' and 'Bihou' Japanese maples with red and orange limbs. There is also a very small Bloodtwig Dogwood 'Midwinter Fire' (Cornus sanguinea) which is really pretty with orange and red limbs.

The pathway along the back shady border - Epimedium, Ferns, Rhododendron, Anise (Illicium floridanum 'Woodland Red'), Hydrangea 'Annabelle', Euonymous albomarginatus and Box Honeysuckle (Lonicera 'Lemon Beauty') in the pot.

Fatsia japonica 'Spider's Web'

Fatshedera 'Aureo Maculata'

Epimedium (either 'Frohnleiten' or 'Sulphureum', I can never remember which).

California Lilac (Ceanothus 'Berryhill')

This bamboo (a clumping variety) was planted here already and we have grown to love it.

Cistus 'Mickey'


Parahebe perfoliata


Phormium 'Rainbow Queen'


Cedrus deodara 'Feelin' Blue'


Rosemary 'Irene' and Cotoneaster dammeri 'Lowfast'


Hebe 'Pretty in Pink'


Pennisetum 'Redhead' and Juniper 'All Gold'


Viburnum davidii and Orange New Zealand Sedge (Carex testacea)

Heather (Calluna 'Firefly') and Germander (Teucrium fruiticans 'Azureum')

Cupressus sempervirens 'Swane's Golden' and Asian Jasmine 'Ogon Nishiki' (Trachelospermum) on the arch.

Pinus densiflora 'Golden Ghost'

Pinus sylvestris 'Hillside Creeper' and New Zealand Flax (Phormium 'Shiraz')

Honeybush (Melianthus major) - This plant continues to amaze and it has gotten much larger than I expected. I oten see hummingbirds taking baths in the water droplets on the leaves.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. Look at all that color. Oh, to have big windows to look at this garden from a cozy inside when it is cold outside. Beautiful. Now that I live in the Midwest, one of the things I miss the most about the time I lived in North Carolina, is how there was always some color in the garden in winter. Now? Not so much except the green from the evergreens.

    1. Well, they are not huge windows but much bigger than in our former house in Alabama. North Carolina is such a beautiful state.

  2. You have a lot of attractive plants in your winter garden. I was somewhat chagrined to see how much heftier your Phormium looks than most of mine - there's probably a lesson there for me, namely that mine could do with a bit more water than they're getting but then that's true of much of my garden.

    1. Kris, the phormiums have been in the ground about 4 years and survived a transplant. I did not expect to have them that long.

  3. Lush and beautiful even in winter. Love your plant combinations.

  4. I believe that a well done PNW garden shows it's true colors in winter. When it is colorful and interesting as yours, it's a testament to your experience and ability in garden design. Working in a nursery doesn't hurt either :-D Winter in the garden is time for contemplation, planing, and resting.

  5. I don't blame you for being inside and looking out. It is beautiful any way you look at it.

  6. ‘Bill Mackenzie’ does look fantastic. I love the seed heads. Honeybush has beautiful foliage.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts