Our yards don’t have to suffer through a period of looking inactive and lifeless during the fall and winter months. There are many winter interest plants that thrive and even flower during this time of year in the Puget Sound region. While many shrubs and trees lose their leaves and many perennials should be cut down to the ground in the colder seasons, a few broadleaf evergreens are preparing to provide winter interest to complement our main growing season.
Evergreens and Winter Flowers
It is easy to hold the misconceptions that flowers require lots of sun, or that winter is a time of plant inactivity. Neither of these is really the case. Take the winter Daphne (Daphne odora ‘Aureo-marginata’), for example. While it flowers once in the spring, it also flowers effectively and adds interest in the winter, hence its name. The Christmas Rose (Helleborus) and its many varieties are also a great choice for winter flowers and can have multiple bloom colors on a single plant. Sweet Box shrubs (Sarcococca) also flower in winter. While there isn’t a whole lot to be said about their looks, the real advantage is the sweet fragrance these flowers give off, which is a nice addition to any winter based garden. Camellia trees and shrubs also do very well in our area over winter. Many of these have vibrant blooms in all seasons. Oregon grape varieties are another great winter choice (Mahonia). This native evergreen plant does very well in the Pacific Northwest, and most of its flowering and other plant interest happens during winter months.
This is only a snippet of many winter interest plants that are available and thrive in our area. When considering winter plants be sure they are hardy to USDA zone 8a for most of lowland Puget Sound and hardy to zone 7b for areas near Olympia.