Improving Your Winter Landscape

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Thanks to Estabrook’s for permission to re-post.

Does your winter garden picture lack a little something? Winter garden structure, whether provided by ornamental trees, shrubs, or structural perennials can both attractively block unsightly views and create new ones.

Use the following tips to identify those areas of your garden that are less than inspiring and then make a plan to improve them in the spring!

    1. Make a list of the most offensive views at different vantage points around the inside and outside of your home.
    2. Take a good look at your landscape; is there a favorite plant you would like to draw attention to?
    3. Are the entrances and exits to the house clearly defined by plants? An ornamental planting next to a main entrance says welcome, whereas a utility entrance can be down-played by a subdued planting.
    4. Are there great voids in your perennial garden that were once filled by foliage in the growing season? The introduction of a more structural plant that will combine well with perennials may be the answer.
    5. Is there any garden ornamentation or more importantly, too much of a good thing? Garden ornamentation can create a sense of movement, timelessness, or whimsy. In most cases, less is more.
    6. The addition of stone walls, patios, a dry stream bed, or even well placed edging can hugely impact the flow of a garden.

The following list of plants will provide added winter structure:

Boxwood – An excellent mixer in large perennial gardens, Boxwoods will provide evergreen structure to your garden.

Ornamental Maples – An elegant shape, fine branching, and numerous cultivars for a wide range of garden areas. ‘Paper Bark’, ‘Viridis’, ‘Crimson Queen’, and ‘Red Dragon’ make nice selections.

Junipers – Upright forms, some with contorted branches, lend themselves to almost any bright spot. Choose from ‘Robusta’, ‘Emerald Sentinel’ and ‘Hetzi Columnaris’. Low forms also offer many foliage colors from gray to emerald green, and many variations in height. Look for ‘Blueberry Delight’, ‘Sargent’, and ‘Parsons’.

Smokebush – Combine with grasses and large scale perennials and severely prune them to keep in scale with the perennial border. Popular varieties include ‘Young Lady’, ‘Nordine’ and ‘Royal Purple’.

Dwarf Crabapples – From weeping forms to standards that resemble topiaries, these plants offer excellent branch structure and the addition of persistent winter fruit. Choose from ‘Louisa’, ‘Tina’, ‘Firebird’, or ‘Coral Burst’

Artemisia – Gray leaves and structural stems combine with diverse foliage patterns and shapes provided by choice varieties like ‘Valerie Finnis’, Guizho’ and ‘Silver Mound’.

Tall Sedums – A great structural plant for the garden in summer as well as the winter thanks to its seed heads that are delightfully capped in snow. Look for ‘Matrona’, ‘Autumn Fire’, ‘Autumn Joy’, or ‘Purple Emperor’.

Turtlehead – A lovely late blooming plant for the summer garden that offers excellent seed pods for winter viewing and naturalizes near water nicely. Favorite varieties include ‘Alba’ and ‘Hot Lips’.

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Lemon Queen Sunflowers - Helianthus annuus

Annual

 

Short Description

Beautiful butter yellow flowers blossom mid-summer to frost! Typically grow to more than 5 ft. tall. Expect 70 days to flower.

Growing Guidelines

  1. Around the last frost date, sow seeds directly into the soil.
  2. Plant seeds 1" deep and 6" apart.
  3. Water well after planting.
  4. Apply a 3"-4" layer of mulch to conserve water and keep down weeds.
  5. Thin seedlings to 1 ft. apart to allow 2 to 3 ft. between plants.

Care and Feeding
Plant in full sun. Sunflowers are drought-resistant, but they'll grow better if you water regularly from the time the flowers begin to develop until they're mature. Thriving in most soils, these flowers will become massive if given ample fertility, space and water. Harvest blossoms for continued flowering.

Need more information or gardening supplies? Contact your local independent garden center.

Calendula Mix-Calendula officinalis

 

Short Description

Fruition has hand-selected this variety to have a brilliant diversity of colors with dozens of gorgeous, petals on each blossom.

Growing Guidelines

Direct sow (recommended)

  1. After the last frost, sow directly outside in the garden.
  2. Plant seed 24 to 36 inches apart in all directions.

Transplant method

  1. A cool-season plant, calendula can be started indoors in flats, under grow lights 6-8 weeks before the last frost for early season flowering.
  2. Seeds germinate in 5-15 days.

Care and Feeding
Plant in full sun to partial shade. Easy to grow and remarkably drought tolerant, calendula also thrives in containers and will readily naturalize when let go to seed.

Transplanting Tips

  1. Purchase a good seed starting soil like Espoma Organic seed starting mix or Coast of Maine.
  2. Use a small greenhouse tray(tray with a clear plastic dome) to germinate your seeds.
  3. When it's time to transplant into the garden, use a fertilizer like Espoma Flower-tone or Espoma Plant-tone.

Need more information or gardening supplies? Contact your local independent garden center.

Purple Queen Anne's Lace

"Dara" Daucus carota

 

Short Description

Gorgeously laced 3-5" umbels in shades of burgundy, lilac, mauve & white on long, strong stems perfect for cutting, adored by pollinators. Related to our native carrot, Queen Anne's Lace.

Growing Guidelines

Direct sow (recommended)

  1. In early spring, after late frost, sow seeds directly in soil.
  2. Plant 1 seed 1/8" deep and 2" apart.
  3. Expect 2 weeks for germination.
  4. When seedlings are 2-3" tall, thin to 1 plant every 9-12".
  5. Support may be needed if fertility is high or if your garden is windy.

Transplant method

  1. Chill seed at 40 F 1-2 weeks prior to sowing 1/8" deep, 2 seeds per cell 4-5 weeks before planting out.
  2. Expect germination in 1-2 weeks.
  3. When first leaves appear, transplant into larger containers.
  4. Harden off & transplant with 9-12" between plants after last frost.

Care and Feeding
Plant in full sun. Expect 65-75 days to maturity. Dara has an exceptionally long vase life; harvest when 80% of an umbel's flowers are open & no pollen has shed. Enjoy 7-15 heads per plant on swaying 35-50" stalks.

Transplanting Tips

  1. Purchase a good seed starting soil like Espoma Organic seed starting mix or Coast of Maine.
  2. Use a small greenhouse tray(tray with a clear plastic dome) to germinate your seeds.
  3. When it's time to transplant into the garden, use a fertilizer like Espoma Flower-tone or Espoma Plant-tone.
Need more information or gardening supplies? Contact your local independent garden center.

Marigolds

Annual

Care and Feeding

Transplant Only: Sow 4 weeks before last frost shallowly, 2 seeds per cell and thin to 1, keeping soil surface moist until emergence. Transplant to larger containers when true leaves appear. Harden off and transplant outside when the danger of frost has passed with 12" between plants. Deadhead for blossoms all season.

  • Sowing Date: Indoors before last frost
  • Seed Depth: 1/4 inch
  • Days to Germination: 4-7 days at 75-80°F
  • Days to Maturity: 60
  • Plant spacing after thinning: 12 inches
  • Height: 12 inches

Need more information or gardening supplies? Contact your local independent garden center.

Organic Mexican Sunflower (Torch Tithonia)

Annual

Care and Feeding
Direct Seed (recommended): After final frost, sow every 8" and thin to one every ~2'. Light required to germ, so barely cover seed. Full sun is best. Any (even poor) soil is suitable. Harvest flowers when 90% open for bouquets.

Transplant: Sow indoors 2-3 weeks before last frost, transplanting after frost with spacing below.
 
  • Sowing Date: After frost; Late May- early June
  • Seed Depth: 1/2 inch
  • Days to Germination: 7-14 days
  • Days to Maturity: 85
  • Plant spacing after thinning: 2 feet
  • Height: 5-7 feet

Need more information or gardening supplies? Contact your local independent garden center.

Cosmos

Annual

Care and Feeding

Direct Seed (recommended): After last frost, shallowly sow 4 seeds/foot & thin to 1/foot when first true leaves appear. Wider spacing = thicker stronger stems.

Bouquets: harvest when petals first open. Deadhead for blooms all season.

Transplant: Shallowly sow 4 weeks before transplanting after last frost at below spacing. Transplant your cosmos for earlier blooms and more full-size plants per pack; direct sow for blooms throughout the season and simplicity of sowing.

  • Sowing Date: After frost, late May to early June 
  • Seed Depth: 1/4 inch
  • Days to Germination: 7-10
  • Days to Maturity: 65-70
  • Plant spacing after thinning: 18-24 inches
  • Height: 3-4 feet

Need more information or gardening supplies? Contact your local independent garden center.