Now that the leaves are gone and the flowering plants are asleep for the winter, how can we keep our gardens attractive through the winter months? There are many plants that offer winter interest in the landscape.

Evergreens come in many colors, sizes and textures, and can be used throughout the gardens to bring color when flowers are done blooming. There are shades of greens, golds and rust to choose from. In addition, the growth habit may be upright, weeping, contorted, low and spreading, or any combination. Using evergreens of all kinds will add structure and color to the landscape all year long. Types to consider are juniper, holly, pines, fir and many more.

In addition to evergreens there are some shrubs that show off to their best advantage when their leaves are gone. Contorted filbert or corkscrew willow have fantastic twisted twigs that add interest to the garden or bouquets. Red twig or yellow twig dogwood will stand out in the winter landscape. They need to be cut back once a year to keep the twig color vibrant, but are easy care and look great against the snow. Winterberry holly loses its leaves to reveal bright red clusters of berries that will last through the winter. When roses are done blooming, the rose hips get a chance to show off. Rather than dead head the last blooms, leave them and you’ll have rose hips for the winter. These and many other berries will also provide food for wild animals.

When selecting a deciduous tree for the landscape, consider what it will look like when the leaves are gone. There are many species of trees that have beautiful bark that will add interest to the landscape. Paperbark maple, Stewartia and varieties of river birch have interesting bark that you’ll notice best in winter.

Instead of cutting back all of your ornamental grasses, consider leaving the plant up all winter and cut it back in the spring. Birds will appreciate the seed heads, and the waving fronds will add movement to the garden.

Lastly, if you have plants that produce attractive seed heads or pods, consider leaving them till spring. Coneflowers, milkweed and Siberian iris are just a few plants that have interesting seed heads.

While winters are long in upstate New York, they don’t have to be boring in the landscape. Try adding some of the above plants to your landscape and you’ll have attractions that last throughout the year.