When winter closes in leaves fall and flowers fade leaving the garden with bare branches and an uninspiring view. However it doesn’t have to be like this. Depending on your zone there are shrubs and trees which either bloom or are covered in berries to add color to the scene. I came across an article by Lynda Mapes in the Seattle Times which describes a visit to the Winter Garden at the University of Washington Botanic Gardens. Camellia, Mahonia, Winter Jasmine, Daphne and Witch Hazel are just some of the shrubs which bloom at this time.
We notice most now the darkling days, the lengthening beams of sun, slanting low in the sky: Winter is coming. Yet as much of nature puts up the do-not-disturb sign until spring, now is when the winter garden is just awakening.
A path through the camellias at the Joseph A. Witt Winter Garden at the Washington Park Arboretum is strewn with immaculate white blossoms tinged with pink as Camellia pitardii ?Apple Blossom? opens fresh new buds to flowers aglow with golden stamens.
?Float those in a bowl, and you would hardly know it?s winter,? said Raymond Larson, curator of living collections for the University of Washington Botanic Gardens. The Winter Garden is one of his favorite spots in the Arboretum, and on a recent day with an oyster sky, cold enough to enjoy a wool coat, Larson pointed to life burgeoning everywhere along its paths.
Hummingbirds zoomed by to visit the flowers of a towering Mahonia (Berberis) ?Arthur Menzies,? its yellow blooms shining bright as a lit torch against the backdrop of somber cedars. And fragrance was everywhere: seeping from winter jasmine, sweet box, and clinging thick and rich to the Daphne bholua ?Jaqueline Postil.? One 6-foot specimen was festooned with creamy white, star-shaped flowers just opened.
And the best is yet to come: The witch hazels were starting to fatten buds that are taking on color, as they ready to bloom right through until spring. For in the Winter Garden, there is no such thing as the dead of winter.
The Pacific Northwest is a blessed realm for gardeners, a Goldilocks land neither too hot nor too cold for plants. So while gardeners elsewhere must make do with seed catalogs and photos this time of year, here plant people, that lucky tribe of all nations, can swoon through winter over the beauty of fragrant, blooming plants and fresh green foliage.