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Winter landscape does not have to be dreary

December 8, 2011

By OSU Extension Services
Just because the sky can be drab and dreary in the fall and winter months does not mean the landscaping around your home must be, too.
David Hillock, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension consumer horticulturist, said planting pansies along with your spring flower bulbs not only adds to the spring display, but can provide some bright, vibrant color to what otherwise would be a gray landscape during those cold winter months.
“Pansies are extremely cold hardy and will tolerate snow and ice. If our winter is anything like last year, Oklahomans may see plenty of snow,” Hillock said. “Homeowners may not have any luck trying to find colorful plants this late in the season, but they can certainly hold on to these ideas for next year.”
In order for your fall/winter garden to be successful depends a lot on bed preparation and location. A sunny to partly shady location with excellent drainage is ideal and will encourage the most blooming.  A heavily shaded spot may never dry out, which could cause root rot. However it is important not to let plants get too dry.
Cold, dry winter winds with little moisture in the form of rain or snow will result in winter scorch.  Be sure to water enough to wet the soil to a depth of about 6 to 8 inches.  Other cool-season plants that tolerate a great deal of cold include ornamental kale and cabbage and snapdragons.
“Homeowners can find wonderful colors in other landscape plants, too,” he said. “Some woody shrubs have colorful stems. The Redosier Dogwood has red stems and the yellow twig version of this species has yellow stems. In addition, the Japanese Kerria has bright green stems, which stand out beautifully during the winter months, especially in a blanket of snow.”
A variety of other trees, including the London Planetree, Lacebark Elm and the Heritage River Birch offer great bark color and texture. Keep in mind there are a number of trees and shrubs that have colorful berries that appear late fall and early winter. The deciduous hollies are usually covered in bright red berries, though orange and yellow fruiting varieties are available, too. What is nice is that the color lasts well into the winter months.
Other woody plants with colorful berries include the Chokeberries, Beautyberry, Heavenly Bamboo and Hawthorns.
“Although many people associate colorful landscapes with the spring and summer seasons, there’s no reason you can’t add splashes of color to your winter landscape,” Hillock said.

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