The winter garden works with the natural cycles of plants and flowers of "bloom to dormancy" and capture ever ounce of awesomeness they have to offer. It's really about using the right plants and flowers in your yard that have what pro-botanists and garden designers call “winter interest”, that is specie that maintain a certain je ne sais quois even when they are dormant from December to March.
Winter interest is the fourth dimension of a four season landscape design that strives to have color, texture and body for the entire year. The concept combines flowers like crocus and tulips (that pop in early spring) with mid- & late summer bloomers like blazing star with grasses and flowers like Calamagrostis, Pennisetum and Solidago (that start expressing themselves in early to mid-autumn) all in the same bed or planted area. These plants are used and coupled with others that will give you explosions of colors all spring and summer along with giving you a garden that is still full of life and presence when the skies gray and the snow comes.
The four season approach to landscape design grows out of the "New Perennial" movement made famous by designers like Piet Oudolf with projects such as the Highline in New York and Lurie Garden in Chicago. The plantings are designed to completely fill a space with dynamic fillers and structural perennials along with understories and groundcover. It is the most natural and sustainable way to design yards. Only native and adaptive plants are used while woody ornamentals, evergreens and trees are used as anchors in specific places sparingly or as the backdrops for the overall design.
Here are some of my favorite plants photographed at night illustrating that even as the days get short and the nights longer that your yard can be dramatic and beautiful.
Want To Read More about Landscape Design:
1. My Bermuda Trip: Imperfect Pavers, Perfectly
2. Take the Next Step with Ecology
3. Capture Autumn with Solidago in Your Eco-Yard
4. The Quest for the High Line in Suburbia