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Planning for winter interest

Planning for winter interest


January can be difficult. There is never much to do, we can’t go outside and garden, and being indoors too much starts to give us all a bit of cabin fever. This is the perfect time to plan your garden or improvements to existing gardens.

Think from the inside out

A few years ago, I traveled with some Extension colleagues on a learning tour to Colorado. We visited a garden where they had all of these fake doors set up with landscapes around them. The idea was to get people thinking about their gardens looking from the outside in. To look at how different gardens can look to visitors at your house. However, it was also intended to help people think about gardens from the inside out as well.

We often plan our gardens around what the garden looks like in the spring or summer and even in the fall, but we rarely plan our gardens around what it will look like in the winter. Season-long interest is important to remember when planning your garden. The winter lasts for quite a few months and we should plan our gardens to have some type of plant interest in the winter months so we have something to look at from inside our homes to enjoy, even on cold, snowy days. We need to think about how our landscapes look from our windows too, because why should visitors and passersby be the ones getting the most from your landscape.

Plants for winter interest

Evergreen plants will give you some color and texture over the winter months to liven up the brown or white environment. Some good choices include yews, boxwood, barberry, spruce, pine, and the junipers. There are many great selections of all of these plants to fit in different spaces in your landscape and for different forms. In the junipers alone, you can find groundcover types, small shrubs, large shrubs, trees and many choices of green color in these.

Plants with berries are good for the winter as well. Holly plants are great for the holidays, but can last through the winter with red berries on green plants. Other good berry plants for winter interest include winterberry, snowberry and coralberry. Also, don’t forget one of my favorites for winter interest, red-twig dogwood or if you prefer yellow-twig dogwood. Both give fun colors to the drab winter environment.

To have winter interest in your garden doesn’t just mean to plant things that are overly colorful. This can be achieved by gardening practices as well. Leave your plant life through the winter months to have seed heads present through the winter. One of the easiest and most interesting types of plants for this would be the native grasses. Big and Little bluestem, miscanthus or maidenhair grass, sideoats grama, switchgrass, and even pampas grass is very interesting to look at through the winter months and stands tall through most snow.

Planning for gardening season

Obviously, now isn’t the time to plant your garden, but you can start to think about your viewpoints and what needs more interest from your indoor viewpoint in the winter. This is the perfect time to start planning that, you have plenty of time to map it out and the seed catalogs are coming in the mail every day to give you more plant ideas. If nothing else, it helps you see the light at the end of the tunnel, spring will come soon.

If you have any further questions please contact Nicole Stoner at (402) 223-1384,, visit the Gage County Extension website at, or like my facebook page at and follow me on twitter @Nikki_Stoner


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