While standing in our front lawn admiring our Christmas lights, I couldn't help but notice the sad turn our landscaping had taken over the past month. My mums had all succumb to the elements, and the skeletal remains of my daisies and black-eyed susans still stood. Pitiful.
While the holiday decorations add some much needed color to our yard, I know that once January comes, my yard will look like a garden graveyard. I've decided to take advantage of this mild December weather and do some winter landscaping in time for the plants to take root and last until spring.
Welcome to the Cabbage Patch
I'm not a fan of cabbage or kale on my dinner plate. However, in my winter flowerbeds they steal the show. The cabbages and kale come in either shades of purple or green with white centers. They look great in containers, or in groups in a flower bed. They will tolerate the cold, frost, and snow, and don't develop their full color until it really gets cold.
"When buying plants, opt for larger plants, even though you'll pay more," says Marie Iannotti, an about.com gardening guru. "Once cabbages get root bound, the top portion becomes stunted and will never fill out the way you'd like. Look for plants with short stems and relatively uniform length leaves, no holes and at least a hint of color."
Who you calling a 'pansy'?
A pansy, while it looks delicate, is one flower that can tolerate the bitter cold of winter and early spring. They bring little pops of color that are so missed during the winter months. Once winter hits us full blast, your pansies may look like they've taken a beating, but don't count them out; they will come back strong and last until the hot summer.
When shopping for pansies, look for compact plants. Pansies that have sat around at a garden center for too long will have long, stringy stems and will never look as pretty as healthy plants.
Perennials with a Punch
If you are willing to invest money in perennial plants, there's a great selection of shrubs and ground covers that offer fall and winter color while adding volume and texture to your landscape beds year round. Shrubs, like a crimson pygmy barberry, have great red to purple leaves, and red twig dogwoods have reddish purple stems that stand out in the winter landscape.
Prostrate Rosemary is a perennial bluish-green evergreen ground cover. It has the same wonderful fragrance, small, thin leaves, and woody stems as its cousin used in the kitchen. It blooms several times a year, and if planted near a rock ledge, it will cascade over. It's extremely low maintenance.
Artificial Coloring Added
That pop of color you're looking for can also come from your garden accessories. Consider using colorful flower pots, a bright lawn chair, a small statue, or buy or make your own garden gazing ball to bring your flower beds to life in the winter.
Spend a little time outdoors while the cold is not too bitter and spruce up your landscaping--your efforts will continue to pay off until the first signs of spring.