For winter interest, you can’t beat Sedum “Metrona.” It stands straight and is about 3 feet tall throughout the winter. It turns magical when coated with frost or snow. I plan to spray-paint the stalks and flowers heads of my “Metrona” blue to herald the arrival of spring. It’s good to introduce a sense of humor into the garden.
Hydrangea “White Dome” is another star in my winter garden. It is just outside my first-floor office window, and in the summer the shrub rose to over 4 feet tall, reaching just above my windowsill. The blossoms bunched together to form flat 3- to 4-inch umbel-like clusters, made up of dozens of green buds that produce fertile flowers.
Around the edge are a number of white sterile flowers sporting large white petals. They are often referred to as ray flowers. The blossoms age slowly and, like other hydrangeas, the petals both large and small remain intact throughout the winter.
When viewed from a distance, the delicate flower clusters lack the flash of the bodacious blooms of Hydrangea paniculata “Limelight” or H. arborescence “Annabelle.” But the close-up view of them out my window is stunning. And the continuous buzz of tiny bees feasting on their nectar was a delightful summer song I long for in these cold, gray days of winter.
Those lovely blossoms persist today, the tiny flowers having turned dark brown, accented by the larger ray flowers of tan — a promise of things to come. I may spray them in spring, too.
I’ve chosen to leave the faded flowers on all my hydrangeas as they deter deer from nibbling the flower buds. In early spring, I’ll carefully snap them off, exposing the tender flower buds on those hydrangeas that bloom on last year’s wood.
My variegated willow
,” a dwarf shrub grafted as a small tree, produces stunning green, cream and pink leaves on new wood in spring. In winter, the branches turn a gorgeous orange-tan that light up a gray day and glow when the sun strikes them. In early spring, I prune the branches of this little 8-footer quite hard to induce that wonderful variegated foliage that springs forth on new wood.
Many grasses also provide a great show in the winter garden, and in the spring I plan to introduce several varieties into my meadow.