When choosing plants, remember to include some you can enjoy in winter

Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick

Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick

It’s gray. It’s cold. The huge Prickly Pear down the street from me is quite depressed; it’s not one of the hardiest types and I fear it didn’t dodge the last severe freeze. I start feeling a little down myself, but then inevitably the Plant Kingdom in all its variety shows me just how amazing its members are.

Of course, the evergreens (pines, spruces, and many broadleaved shrubs) keep their vital appearance through the winter and know how to look good with a snow makeover, but there are other plants who are very interesting visually in other ways.

The Redtwig dogwoods are, well, red-twigged. And the Purple Wintercreepers are, yes, purple. Sometimes it’s the shapes of the bare branches that are remarkable, for instance, the curling twisted Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick or the long sharply pointed leaves of a yucca. Sometimes the sight of a group of tall dormant grasses swaying in the wind can be mesmerizing. The late season red of the Oregon Grape covered in a coating of clear ice from a freezing rain is something I will never forget. Some of these images can stay with you longer because they are not lost in the busy-ness of the spring and summer growing seasons.

Often it’s our friends from the animal kingdom that show us just how important the plants are in winter. Shelter and food. Watching the birds checking out all the trees and shrubs for the last red berries or the quail pecking and scratching for seeds under the Four-Wing Saltbush can serve as my breakfast entertainment. You may wish the rabbits would not bother your plants or you might not mind watching them timidly hopping around browsing for tender leaves.

There really is a lot to appreciate out there even in winter and when it gets dark you can go through plant catalogs to satisfy your appetite for GREEN and FLOWERS. It’s a good time to start planning for spring. The point of this? Notice what’s out in the landscape that you like in winter so you can remember them in the planting season. When you get a landscape design it should be for the whole year.