Designing the Winter Garden: Starting Small

In all our gardens we start small and add plants as we go. If you look back the the birdbath garden you can see what I mean.  What started with a birdbath and five small plants has slowly turned into a medium size garden area with about 15 different plants. The winter garden will be no different! With economics being what it is no to low cost gardening is a must, but money cannot stand in the way of a great garden! All the plant selections that will form the founding plants in the winter garden are either discount plants or came from propagation (cuttings or divisions).

The first plant to tell you about is the foundation, the Yoshino cherry tree. I know what you're thinking, "cherry trees are great in spring, summer, and fall but in winter?" My goal is to make the winter garden a garden with year round interest which validates the cherry tree, but have you ever looked at the bark of a mature cherry?  It's a nice shiny glistening reddish brown that I think is very attractive.  At least that's my excuse!  It's also in the front yard where we will see the garden year round and growing season interest is important. 

The second plant that I will install (sounds like an appliance) will be the red twig dogwood.  You're probably tired of hearing me talk about the red twig dogwoods, but really, they are great plants! I have several that I can move from other locations to add to the winter garden that I've gotten from cuttings and in one case a division.  I'll start with two and grow from there.

The third subject to join the garden will be a pair of Bird's Nest Spruces.  Like other spruces they are evergreen and will add a bit of color to the garden.  I learned an interesting fact recently about the origin of one variety in the most recent edition of the American Gardener from the American Horticultural Society.  The Bird's Nest Spruce 'Little Gem' was developed from the Witch's Brooms that appear as a mutation on another Bird's Nest Spruce tree (Picea abies 'Nidiformis').  I won't be planting 'Little Gem' but I thought that was a pretty cool to have a dwarf plant come from another dwarf plant!

Two Cranberry Cotoneasters (Cotoneaster apiculata) will also join the garden as berry producing plants for the birds.  They produce red berries in the fall along with burgundy red foliage.  It will lose its leaves but should retain its fruit until the birds eat their fill.  It's not a native plant but isn't listed on the Tennessee invasive plants lists.  It's a low growing shrub with a height of 3 feet as its maximum but spreads out to five feet.  It's also capable of rooting where it touches the ground much like forsythias so caution should be taken to prevent it spreading where it's not wanted. 

The last plant to go in will be another one I have around the yard, Rosemary!  It's purpose will be to add a scent to the garden to hopefully repel any marauding deer and it looks great in the garden.  In our area it does very well as an ornamental edible and serves as a great evergreen planting

There you can see a few of the choices that will go into the garden.  Initially there are only a few but I'll add to them over time.  I'm a little apprehensive with the cotoneaster but as its not listed on any of the invasive lists here in Tennessee it should be OK.  Tomorrow I'll show you one of two sketches I made of the winter garden area to see which arrangement you like best.

Previous Posts on Winter Gardening
Designing the Winter Garden: Aspectual Musings

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