Just because winter is coming on doesn’t mean your gardening has to stop! Seasonal displays of winter-hardy plants can keep the color going in the landscape throughout those cold months. TheDCH, in collaboration with The Scott Arboretum, recently held a demonstration workshop to teach how to enhance the winter appeal of planted containers. Josh Coceano, Scott Arboretum horticulturist, and Lenny Wilson, Associate Director of Development at TheDCH, showed how to achieve gorgeous seasonal interest.
Starting off with an informative powerpoint, Josh Coceano recommended some basic guidelines for planning a winter container. First of all, bigger is better to accommodate freezing and thawing, provide root space and drainage. There are wide varieties of planting containers available such as terracotta, impruneta terracotta, glazed containers, metal, slate, concrete, hypertufa, drainage tiles, recycled/repurposed items, faux stone and faux terracotta. When choosing a container, keep in mind where it will be placed to help make your selection.
Considering your home’s architecture and the container’s color, size, shape and material are important in designing a container with visual presence. Since the plant color palette is more limited in winter, emphasis should be placed on line and texture. Conifers have the lead role in winter containers, either as plantings, stuck greens (branches & trimmings) or in combination. All eyes will focus on the containers in winter, so a full, lush look is desirable.
Plant suggestions include deciduous willows and dogwoods, conifers, evergreens, yuccas, rhododendrons, grasses and cold hardy perennials such as heurcheras, Christmas fern, bergenia and hellebores. Spring bulbs and cold-tolerant annuals may be added in as well. To provide holiday touches, seasonal “stick-ins” of fruited stems, painted dried flowers, bamboo and branches may be put to use.
For ideas and plant selections, Josh gave us a great tip – go see the container plantings at local nursery centers and botanical gardens and use the computer to “Google” many more examples. He advised gathering and grouping plants together at the nursery to see how the combinations will fit and work together before purchasing them.
After seeing many inspiring winter container examples in the presentation, Josh and Lenny took the workshop outside and did the following hands-on demonstration.