Vibrant all through Winter – Grasp Gardener Program

Diana Alfuth
Horticulture Educator
Pierce, Polk and St. Croix Counties UW-Extension

Nicely, as I look out into my far western Wisconsin yard right here in early December, I’ve been seeing lots of brown.  Completely different shades of brown, however total, brown.  I’ve been okay with brown and comparatively heat temperatures for this time of yr, however as I write this the temperatures are dropping and snow is predicted.  If it’s going to be chilly, it could as nicely snow sufficient so we are able to take pleasure in some cross-country snowboarding, snowshoeing, and different Wisconsin winter actions.  White is on the way in which to my yard, however for now, it’s been plenty of brown.

I used to depart most of my backyard clean-up till spring (until there was a illness).  Though perennials are brown and useless, they nonetheless add winter curiosity.  Frost and snow gather on the dried flower heads and leaves, and birds have touchdown locations and sometimes seeds to eat.  However these days I KNOW I’m all the time ridiculously busy in spring, so I attempt to do cleanup in fall.  I nonetheless go away sure perennials standing—people who have notably optimistic winter attributes.  Rusty brown flat flower heads of sedum look nice with snow perched on high, and echinacia and liatris seeds are favorites of finches when snow covers different meals sources.  The dried seed pods of Baptisia can present some sound as they rattle within the breeze.

I deliberate for winter curiosity as I designed my landscapes, so I do have some vivid spots.  The intense purple berries on the Cranberrybush Viburnum and the purple crabapples on varied bushes catch the attention with a shot of shade.  And I’ve a pair items of backyard artwork that may keep out all yr to be loved, together with some stained glass initiatives I’ve made that look vivid and cheery in opposition to vivid white snow on a sunny winter day!  Tree and shrub construction actually shines in winter, and one enjoyable characteristic that I’ve actually seen the final couple of falls is the fuzzy tufts left by the flowers of my Japanese Anemone.  That is one perennial I’ve come to understand increasingly more not too long ago.

Japanese Anemone is about three ft tall, and is available in a wide range of shades of white, pink, darkish pink and purple.  The flowers are held gracefully on lengthy stems that appear to drift above the plant, which might be why it has a typical identify of “windflower”.  It’s a late summer time and fall bloomer, so it offers some curiosity when many of the different perennials are accomplished.  And what I’ve actually seen the final month or so, after all the pieces else turned brown, is the little fuzzy tufts flowing with the wind and catching the solar or frost.  They appear very white—nearly as if one thing is blooming—and add curiosity and movement to the in any other case uninteresting backyard.  To be trustworthy, I don’t know which selection I’ve, as I’m not superb at holding monitor of these particulars.  Supposedly Japanese Anemone can “naturalize”, or unfold within the backyard, however mine have been very nicely behaved and stayed proper the place I put them.

One other spotlight of my in any other case brown panorama is the multi-trunked River Birch.  In the course of the summer time, the leaves on the considerably weeping branches have a tendency to cover the trunk and I don’t discover the cool, cinnamon coloured peeling bark as a lot.  However proper now it’s a powerful point of interest within the backyard throughout the day, and this tree is simply begging for an uplight!!  I reside within the nation, the place it’s very darkish at evening.  In summer time, I’ve a light-weight on my backyard pond waterfall that’s enjoyable to see from indoors, however I flip that off as soon as the water begins freezing and I take the pump out of the pond, so I want one thing else lit up.  I’ve been which means to uplight this birch tree for years and simply haven’t gotten to it.  The neat factor is there are LOTS of latest lighting choices out there for this sort of factor.  As a result of the tree is on the bottom of my garden space, there is no such thing as a electrical energy there so I need to look right into a excessive powered photo voltaic uplight or two.  They are often positioned just a few ft out from the trunk of the tree and shine upward, permitting the peeling bark on the birch to catch the sunshine and forged shadows offering one thing to take a look at outside after we’re caught inside throughout the darkish evenings of winter.  Maybe I ought to put this on my wishlist for Santa . . . .

Outside panorama lights are an effective way so as to add panorama curiosity, however use them sparsely!  Good ideas of panorama design embody having a focus and transferring the attention peacefully by means of the panorama.  Too many focal factors make the attention leap round and the view will get too busy for our brains.  Every panorama mild will likely be a focus, as a result of it’s going to face out from the darkish round it.   Select your finest 1-2 backyard options to accent, and let the remaining be darkish to visually set off these focal factors.  Panorama lighting shouldn’t appear like an airport runway!!!  However, just a few accent lights may help present panorama curiosity and pleasure after darkish.

Quickly I’m positive my brown yard will likely be considerably hidden in white, however I’ll hold evaluating if it’s offering sufficient winter curiosity and attempt to enhance  it every year.  Within the meantime, I’ll do one final stroll by means of and ensure I’ve protected all the pieces I must from hungry rabbits and rodents, after which go inside to begin dreaming of subsequent yr’s gardening and landscaping initiatives!   

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