Cold Climate Gardening in the Northeast

Cold Climate Gardening in the Northeast

Dec 7, 2016

winter interest plants

As you gaze out at your winter landscape on chilly mornings, what do you see? Do you see a barren landscape lacking color and interest or are you greeted with a glorious display of vibrant colors? Winter is one of the most exciting and colorful seasons in the garden when you use the right plant combinations. This dormant time is when most plants are taking a nap to restore energy as they ready themselves for a gorgeous spring display. Even though they’ve lost their colorful autumn leaves and the blooms have dried up, there are a number of plants with colorful characteristics you should keep in mind.

These plants have a beauty all of their own that are best appreciated in the winter. The waning path of the sun creates brilliant lighting and contrast that brings out the colors and textures of the garden. Your landscape can be alive with warm reds, vibrant yellows and gold, brilliant blues and greens and all shades of gray and silver. Now is the time to enjoy the color that the winter season can provide.

Conifers, or evergreens, can add stand-out splashes of gold, green, blue and even red. Plump berries on plants, such as the holly, finally ripen to bright red. In the case of the winterberry holly, they lose their golden leaves and reveal stunning berries. Broad-leaved evergreens remain colorful throughout the winter and provide privacy and respite for our feathered friends. Fall flowering camellias bloom well into the grey days of winter. Red Twig Dogwoods steal the show with their bright red twigs that stand out amongst freshly fallen snow. Conifers and broad-leaved evergreens serve many purposes and are perfect for planting along the foundation of your home and can easily be trimmed into hedges to hide the unsightly foundation of your home, even in winter.

Over the next few months, I encourage you to explore the options available to you as far as textures and colors are concerned and perhaps you’ll look forward to winter as much as I do.

Cold climate gardening is easier than you think. The following is a short list of some of our favorite winter interest plants. Hopefully, this helps you with the first step to having a complete four-season landscape.

Conifers or Evergreens

gold lace juniper Provides a rich gold finely textured foliage

Gold Lace Juniper

  • Broad-leaved Evergreens (This is my favorite group of plants for winter interest)
  • Golden Euonymus - Green and Brilliant gold, easy to grow and shape, makes an excellent foundation plant.
  • Bunches o’ berries holly - Our own evergreen holly guaranteed to produce bright red berries.
  • Inkberry Holly - Stays green thorough even the coldest winters and provides habitat for birds.
  • Osmanthus ‘Goshiki’ - A wonderful blend of creamy-white, green and red. A GGD Favorite!
  • Nandina - Mixes reds, yellows and subtle greens with bright red berries.
  • Yuccas - Golds and greens with a touch of the desert southwest.
  • Photinia - A perfect privacy shrub with red and green leaves all winter.
  • Camellias - Dark green leaves and flowers throughout the winter. Yes, flowers through the winter!
  • Cherry Laurels - Dark Green leaves which only get darker as winter progresses.
  • Mahonia Soft Caress - Early winter bright yellow blooms stand out amongst the reddish green foliage.

Red-Tipped Photinia

photinia has great winter interest


nandina with bright red leaves and berries


golden euonymus with bright yellow leaves

Deciduous Shrubs

red twig dogwood shrubs in the snow

winterberries have bright red berries on leafless branches

This is far from a complete list but I suggest you do some research and decide which plants suit your taste and plant now for a full landscape full of winter interest. Take a look around Garden Goods Direct - here you will find the winter interest plants listed above, plus many more to make your cold climate gardening easy and beautiful.

Stay warm and happy gardening!

- Woodie