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  • Writer's pictureKyle Foch

Winter Interest

Wintertime brings a long-dreaded season for garden lovers. This cold season separates us from the outdoors and our beautiful plant displays. However, this time of year doesn’t have to mean that your garden’s beauty disappears. Wintertime shines a whole new light onto your outdoor spaces. You just need to know how to harness the beauties of winter throughout your landscape to be able to appreciate it as much as you do during the other seasons. There are a few key things to keep in mind when designing your garden for winter splendor.


Colour is one of the most important elements in a winter landscape. The canvas on which a gardener paints during the winter months is in contrast with any other season. This white backdrop created by blanketed snow allows for ordinary colours to be emphasized. Monotonous green hedges become a splendid wall of emerald and the red branches of the dogwood elegantly reach out of the snow. Evergreens can be the main act of your garden display during winter time. Yet, they can also be used as the backdrop for more showy winter plantings. Take advantage of vegetation that has strong colours created by their bark, fruit, seeds, nuts or foliage.

Form & Texture

The form and texture of plants also requires major consideration throughout your winterscape. Leaving spent perennials and grasses within your garden can create depth amongst the mounds of snow. Frozen seeds pods act like ornaments protruding from the ground which can sparkle in the light when iced over.

Winter is the best time of year to show off your topiary clippings and trained plants. These displays are centerfold when all else around them have been put to rest. However, be careful that they don’t get damaged by the harsh weather. Trees with sculptural forms or textured bark can also be appreciated for their subtle characteristics which take a back seat in the summer. Check out my article on “Pruning, Shaping and Training” for more information.


The location of your focal features is truly important in the winter months. Less is more during the season of hibernation and dormancy. Garden art, sculptures and specimen plants should be given special consideration when being placed. An element that is hidden by foliage in the summer may become visible in the winter. Take advantage of views and the ‘centerlines’ of your garden to make sure these elements become the focus of your space.


When all else fails or you want to liven up your winterscape, there is always the option of adding seasonal décor to your outdoor spaces. Temporary winter plant displays can be achieved in the form of wreaths, winter planters and garland. These features are especially effective if your garden is lush with evergreen, berries, nuts and other persistent plant material. These displays will add character and match the plant material which is still present in the landscape.

Another key element to consider is the landscape lighting that is both temporary and permanent. Lighting is put up at this time of year to bring Christmas joy or to celebrate other winter holidays. Yet, consider string lighting and other elements as a way to give ambiance to your outdoor space. This illumination also extends the period in which you can appreciate you landscape during the dark winter months. Temporary lighting may be kept up during other seasons if you grow to appreciate the impact it creates.

Permanent fixtures should also be given special consideration during the winter time. Lighting which emphasises one thing in the summer may portray something totally different in the winter. Make sure you give thought to winter elements and the changing seasons when planning your lighting. Check out my article on “Lighting Techniques and Uses” for more information.

Take advantage of the long and beautiful winter season by giving some thought to your winterscape. You may not be able to appreciate all the flowering displays, but your garden will have a unique beauty that can be appreciated even during the dormant part of the year. Talk to your landscape professional to get some advise on how you can improve your winter space.

#winterinterest #winterscaping #itscoldoutside #extendtheseason

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