Just because the growing season for plants is finished doesn’t mean they all turn to sticks and crunchy leaves, there are many plants out there that have one last trick up their sleeve. Evergreens are what people commonly think of for living plants in the winter, but there are many others that can show some character even in the darkest coldest months. Today I’ll talk about some shrubs and perennials that bring a breath of life in the dead of winter.
Shrubs mostly drop their leaves and become skeletons of their former selves. Some shrubs like viburnums and dogwoods would rebuke your thought that they become nothing like the rest. Viburnum varieties like Viburnum lantana retain about half of their leaves far into the winter months and provide a good fall color to boot. Dogwoods like the Redtwig Dogwood will have vibrant red stems that will always provide some color even in the coldest months. Others go a different route and instead have berries that retain their color on the branches like the Beautyberry with its glossy purple berries.
Perennials that have winter interest a few and far between. Most wither away into a heap of dead leaves but some hold on to some color like the Penstemons. Depending on the variety, these perennials will keep a lot of their basal foliage green/purple throughout the winter. Another perennial species to keep in mind are Dianthus. These are excellent groundcovers with summer blooms but the blue-green foliage will hold on tight and keep its color deep into the winter months. Another favorite of mine is Liriope, this shade loving groundcover has strap-like leaves, and will keep its dark green color all winter until a spring cutback reveals bright green new foliage peaking through. Next time you are in the market for some plants, think about winter interest and how to bring a little color into the landscape when everything else fades away.