Thursday, January 8, 2009

Winter Plants for a 12 Month Garden Zone 7

This is a Callicarpa bodinieri giraldii, or as I call it the Purple Berry Bush. I purchased this bush at a local family owned garden center in town. In order to achieve a 12 month garden, you need plants that will bloom or show some color or interesting feature during the winter months, even when they are covered with ice and snow. I planted this bush right in front of my house so that I could see it from a kitchen window. Birds, especially Mockingbirds and Cardinals love to eat the berries. In the wild, this shrub doesn't produce a lot of berries, but if you severely prune it in March, after the birds have had their fill, it will make huge purple clusters the next fall.
Another favorite winter plant at Jarvis house is the Winter Jasmine, which droops over the low stone edging at the corner front of my barn. This plant blooms several months before Forsythia, and has waxy red buds and yellow trumpet blooms. New Plants are easily started whenever branches touch the ground. It is especially nice for rock walls as it cascades down over high places.
One of the first trees that I planted at Jarvis, over 30 years ago, was an American holly. Each year it produces huge bunches of red berries and beautiful large shiny leaves. This tree is remarkably resilient to all extremes of weather. One winter, on Long Island, we had terrible winds and all of the large leaf hollies here lost their leaves. I thought that the tree was going to die, but it came right back. Honey bees cover the tree each spring. With the disappearance of honey bees, I thought that I would not get berries. If there are male and female hollies within a mile of your garden you will probably get berries. There are still some honey bees around and other insects must be pollinating the tree because it had berries this year.
Recently I tried out some large grasses, varieties of Miscanthus. Not only are they really luxurious in the driest days of August, but they are take on wonderful shapes with snow and ice. In the spring I cut them back with old fashioned hedge clippers. They look like large scissors. They can be easily split with a spade if they get too large.

Another winter plant of interest is a small leaf variegated Holly. I have planted these shrubs all over my yard for their interesting foliage. They grow very slowly, but they are also quite tolerant of weather extremes, and seem to grow well even with limited light. I have a plain small leaf Japanese Holly that grew into a beautiful large shrub even though it was planted near a Norway Maple! Now that's a great plant.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

Excellent - now you need to get yourself some visitors........!