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Plant color in the winter

March 23, 2010

Some very nice plants put on a beautiful show at Busch Gardens in the winter. But usually the employees are the only ones here to appreciate their efforts. So here’s my chance to share them with you.

Many homeowners in this area are familiar with the Yuletide camellia, with its open red flowers and yellow stamens. My favorite camellia here is a peppermint-striped variety, just inside England’s entrance. These plants provide good evergreen foliage throughout the year. Enjoy the flowers starting in late December.

I also like the native itea. The foliage goes deep burgundy in fall. Most of the leaves have fallen now, but the remaining stems retain that beautiful color and look great in masses.

If you want something really different, you can look for the yellow-twig dogwood. It’s a many-stemmed shrub with bright yellow bare twigs in these cold winter months. Rejuvenation pruning removes about a third of the oldest stems every year so the young, yellow twigs keep on coming.

Another one of my favorite plants is the mahonia. It’s one of the few shrubs to flower in January and February, and the flower clusters become dusky blue berries when there are few other choices available. The holly-like leaflets make this a useful barrier plant as well.

Who said winter gardening has to be boring?

Landscaper at Busch Gardens

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jenny permalink
    March 28, 2010 9:52 am

    Very interesting! Do you think those would grow and survive in Northern VA? I have also been enjoying your fall plantings. One plant I cannot find is the smoky reddish ornamental grass that is grown close to Dar Kastle. Do you have the name of that one please?

    • April 7, 2010 9:22 am

      We use purple fountain grass from late spring through the end of the season. I like the look of this plant, too, but unfortunately it isn’t hardy for us here. You should be able to find it available in late spring or early summer, and I have left it in my yard through the winter for color, but it will not come back the next season.

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