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20 Terrific Plants for Winter Landscapes

By Kathy LaLiberte

As a gardener, it's difficult to imagine looking forward to winter. But what if the coming of winter revealed an entirely new landscape with colors, textures and shapes that can't be seen at any other time of year? What if the coming of winter meant 5 months of beauty without staking, deadheading, pruning or watering a single plant?

There are many wonderful, easy-care shrubs for the winter landscape. Most will keep a low profile from spring through fall, and reappear like old friends when cold weather arrives. Here are 20 of my favorites:

Color

When the world fades to grey, these shrubs show their true colors.

Shrubby Dogwood Tip: To ensure bright color, prune dogwoods each spring to remove some older branches and allow more new growth. The newer branches show better color.

  • Cornus alba 'Sibirica' (coral-red branches)
  • Cornus alba 'Bud's Yellow' (yellow)
  • Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire' (orange-red)

False Cypress

  • Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Filifera Aurea' (yellow)
  • C. pisifera 'Boulevard' (blue)

Creeping Juniper

  • Juniperus horizontalis 'Wiltoni' (blue)
  • J. horizontalis 'Mother Lode' (yellow)

Holly

  • Ilex x meserveae 'Blue Angel' (blue-green leaves, red berries)
  • I. x meserveae 'Golden Girl' (green leaves, yellow-orange berries)
Holly
Evergreen holly is adorned with showy, bright-red fruit.
Berries
With luck, birds will let you enjoy these berries until late winter.
  • Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)
  • Firethorn (Pyracantha coccinea)
  • Beautyberry (Callicarpa dichotoma)
  • Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum, V. dilatatum, V. lentago, V. opulus, V. rhytidophyllum and V. trilobum).
Texture
Shiny bark reflects winter light and grasses rustle in the wind.
  • River birch (Betula nigra)
  • Paperbark maple (Acer griseum)
  • Bamboo (Nandina domestica)
  • Grasses (Miscanthus sp., Panicum sp.)
Shapes
Sculptural forms delight the eye and create a foil for frost and snow.
  • Boxwood globe (Buxus)
  • Irish yew (Taxus baccata 'Fastigiata')
  • Harry Lauder's Walking Stick (Corylus avellana)
  • Flowering Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia, C. florida and C. kousa)