While summer brings a lush array of fantastic foliage and blooming exuberance, for me winter is about the details. Evergreen structure is important and when you plan any new bed thoughts of winter interest is a great starting point. As I walk through our garden in the winter I find myself amazed by the smallest things.
New growth on a polemonium caught my eye with its multi-colored resistance to the cold. This is a little bit of life that has withstood the rain and cold and still manages to hang on. As we clean up the garden this stalk will be removed but for a few moments I was able to appreciate it.
Another small player in the scheme of the garden is Cyclamen hederifolium. It is dormant during the summer, blooms in the fall , and has wonderfully bright foliage all through winter and into spring. It is not a plant that you are going to base an entire garden on but it provides something fresh when many other plants are on their way down.
Lamium ‘Ghost’ is not in bloom during the winter and will lose much of its own foliage, but it still can serve a wonderful purpose. Being a shade plant often means the leaves that cast the shade fall and create a brown mat during the winter. The silver crowns of the lamium peak up through the debris and shine their brightest. It is an accent that was probably not planned but a little surprise that can be enjoyed.
Sitting next to the lamium in the garden was the Golden greater woodrush which I don’t know if I had ever noticed before. It is a very lush bed in the summer full of golds and silvers. But the humble luzula had somehow escaped my attention until now. The leaves of Luzula sylvatica ’Aurea’ were undamaged by the heavy early frosts and the color was bright and clean. It seems like some evergreen grasses might still have their foliage but look damaged or worn out. This was definitely not the case.
I recommend that you go take a stroll through your garden, if you are not too snowed in that is, and see what little surprises there are to be found. As you plan out future beds or look to add just one more plant, remember to think about all the small surprises that can be found in winter.