Deciduous Shrubs That Add Winter Interest To The Landscape

Deciduous Shrubs That Add Winter Interest To The Landscape

Dec 9, 2022

Winter is the fourth season in the four-season landscape and often the season most gardeners neglect to plan for. Winter can be one of the most beautiful seasons in the garden and, incidentally, one of our favorites if you plan accordingly.

A well-planned garden highlights the seasonal interest in certain plants. Gardeners know that spring, summer, and fall are full of color in the garden, but many colors and textures are often hidden away, just waiting to take center stage in the winter garden.

Throughout the seasons, the bright red berries and vibrant stems of deciduous plants are often hidden by luscious foliage; however, in winter is is really time for many of these plants to shine when they lose that foliage!

Making Colors Pop In The Winter Landscape

winter interest shrubs bring vibrant color

The plants you choose for adding winter interest are often true gems in the garden year-round. The Red Twig Dogwood, for example, has glossy green foliage in the spring, followed by small white flowers in the summer that give way to gorgeous berries in the summer. In the early fall, the leaves take on hints of rose or golden yellows, leading us to the most beautiful time when the bright red stems brighten even the deepest depths of winter.

Deciduous shrubs are often planted among evergreen shrubs that can complement these shrubs. Planting Red Twig Dogwoods amongst Globe Blue Spruces creates an excellent study of hot and cold colors in the early winter.

Another spectacular way to highlight the many attributes of some deciduous shrubs is to plant them in front of taller plants with evergreen foliage. This technique not only helps to highlight the winter interest, but many shrubs have leaves that turn brilliant colors that stand out against the dark green foliage of evergreens such as Arborvitaes or Cypress Trees.

5 Deciduous Shrubs for Winter Color in the Landscape

deciduous winter interest shrubs
American Witch Hazel:

These large shrubs make our list not by having colorful bark or berries but by their yellow flowers that appear in early winter and often last for up to 6 weeks. The flowers on American Witch Hazel shrubs are bright yellow and are a welcome sight in the winter.

Winterberry Hollies:

Deciduous hollies or Ilex verticillata Is one of the most well-known winter interest shrubs. Winterberry Holly Shrubs are typically grown not for the foliage or flowers but for the Plump Red Berries that are usually hidden in the foliage until they lose their leaves in the fall.

Winterberry hollies are also native to North America, so they're great for our indigenous birds and pollinators. Much like unwrapping a Christmas present, the wrapping (leaves) is pretty, but the real gift is the berries that remain unseen until unwrapped in winter.

Edgeworthia Chrysantha:

Every winter, visitors to our garden are amazed by the beauty of the paper bush. When most plants are sleeping for the winter, these lovely plants are hard at work producing flowers with a sweet fragrance. They flower at the perfect time when we are all worn down by the long winter. Edgeworthia is an easy way for gardeners to add a fourth season of flowers to the landscape, lasting until early spring.

Red Chokeberry:

Another native species that produces red berries is the Aronia shrub. Also referred to as Red Chokeberry, these beautiful shrubs have red berries that are very tart, and therefore the birds wait until late in the winter to enjoy them, meaning you can enjoy the colorful berries through the winter.

Yellow Twig Dogwood:

We always talk about Red Twig dogwoods but rarely mention its equally attractive cousin. The Yellow Twig Dogwood is identical in every way to its red cousin, but in the winter, its stems are yellow.

Easy Ways to Add Interest to your Winter Landscape

We've now covered a well-designed winter landscape's top and middle layers. You should now understand the concepts of providing contrast in the winter landscape, the permanence of evergreen shrubs, and the added beauty that deciduous shrubs bring to a yard.

Stay tuned for our next installment of ‘Creating a Beautiful Winter Landscape’, where we'll cover Grasses and Perennials that are perfect for your winter garden.

Until next time, see you in the garden.