Is the winter period the “ho hum” time of year for your garden? Does your garden lack the interest that draws you to it during this time? Well, let’s change that image!
Plan for “all season” color, not just “seasonal”.
So much emphasis and effort is placed on our spring to fall garden. The winter garden gets overlooked and is usually unattractive. All season plants that are permanent, preplanned, and integrated into the overall garden design can change that. Seasonal plants are temporary, and meant only for specific periodic plantings. The winter season in Austin generally runs from December 1 thru March 31. We reside primarily in cold hardiness zone 8b (minimum coldest temperature ranging between 15 and 20, but a small area around Austin itself is in zone 9a (20-25 degrees). Although we rarely see temperatures that low, we must be prepared for that possibility. Plants must deal with subfreezing temps, ice, sleet,rapid temperature change and wet and cold combinations.
Central Texas native and adaptive plants are mostly deciduous/perennial Evergreens are a garden treasure in Central Texas, but limited. Winter color plants can be seasonal, or all season – cold hardy. Landscape areas should blend both evergreen with seasonal plants. Winter color can be from foliage or flowers –don’t overlook foliage. Foliage can be variegated white/yellow, green, blue/silver, & purple. Marginally hardy or semi-evergreens need protected micro-environments. Cool weather seasonal plants offer more color variety and bloom. Use colorful, eye catching hardscaping to add interest to winter garden Avoid container plantings except in very protected areas as roots freeze much faster than terrestrial plantings. Now let’s look at some plant choices…..
Good plants for off-season temporary garden color in FALL:
Mums, Copper Canyon Daisy, Fall Aster, Mexican Mint Marigold, Philippine Violet – for flowering
Flowering cabbages, kale, or colorful swiss chard for cool weather colorful foliage
Colorful variegated cultivars of well known Evergreen plants, e.g.
Loropetalum chinensis ‘plum delight‘ –Chinese Fringe Flower
Ilex decidua (Possomhaw Holly) –persistent red berries
Acca sellowiana (Pineapple Guava)
Sanolina (comes in both green and silver varieties)
Natural materials, e.g Limestone Rocks and boulders, Cedar driftwood