Nature creates winter wonderlands all around us and in order to design your personal winter garden one begins by having a vision. By combining interesting shaped trees, plant and sometimes organic artifacts, boulders, or seating elements your vision then becomes your own artistic statement.
Knowing which tree, shrub, and plant materials will hold up during winter’s harsh winds does help.
Always take into consideration the back drop and surrounding elements of your winter garden. Sometimes you may visualize natural full grown existing trees and vegetations or, perhaps, simple lawn covered in snow.
During the spring, summer, and autumn seasons the nurseries are loaded with fantastic native, specimen and unique trees and plant materials. Keep your eyes peeled for interesting sculpture and artifacts that, when combined into you winter garden, can bring a smile to your face when viewing during the winter months.
It is wonderful to plant crocus bulbs, scattered and natural looking work best when planted in groups of five and groups of three. The crocus bulbs begin to sprout and whimsically peek out in early spring. They often begin breaking through the lingering snow mounds of the last snow fall and bring joy at that time with their pastel multi-color petals and sweet promise of spring.
Helleborus orientalis is a wonderful winter flowering perennial that blooms delicate pale pink and apple green flowers. Their leaves are a shiny hunter green. Together with Cornus siberica, red twig shrubs, in the driven snow is a site to behold.
Here on Long Island, and locally in the Hamptons, another enchanting tree like shrub that I use as one of my signature trees is the Harry Lauder Walking Stick – Corylus avellana, ‘Contorta’ or Corkscrew hazel.
This tree’s branches are also wonderful for indoor winter arrangements. Its curly cork screw branches twist and twine to create a most intricate and memorable garden specimen. Also, as this extraordinary tree matures one can train and trim the tree into wonderful shapes.
Let us not forget the ever trust worthy Ilex opaca, also known as holly. Ilex opaca puts forth beautiful lush golden berries with glossy green foliage. When dusted with snow they are simply wonderful. Little Prince and Little Princess varieties have blue casts to their foliage. Little Princess offers up colorful red berries and delicate white flowers as well. Key words here: deer resistant.
Some other favorite elements for a winter garden are Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar trees. They are truly living sculpture in any season. They especially come to life when a fresh mantle of snow enhances their exquisite shapes. Many nurseries train the Weeping Atlas’ in most interesting shapes. When mature their branches drizzle down toward the ground and have a striking presence within the garden. You can find these trees in an extraordinary selection of shapes and sizes at Eastland Gardens in Water Mill, Warren’s Nursery in Water Mill, Marder’s in Bridgehampton, and at Whitmore’s in East Hampton and Amagansett.