Pacific Northwest plant varieties add color to winter garden

Pacific Northwest plant varieties add color to winter garden

Photo courtesy of Al Dodson Hamamelis x intermedia 'Arnold Promise' thrives in smaller city gardens.

by Lorene Edwards Forkner

Even the most avid gardener retreats indoors during winter's reign. Yet even now, we eagerly anticipate every seasonal shift and garden event — we just prefer to do so from within the snug comfort of home. The temperate side of a window becomes our lens into the garden where glossy foliage and colorful blooms offer beauty in a season when we need it most. Some warming highlights for your winter garden can include:

Cryptomeria japonica 'Sekkan-Sugi'

This Golden Japanese Cedar is a columnar conifer that grows slowly to 25 feet tall and 10 feet wide. Finely textured foliage emerges a creamy-yellow color before maturing to deep golden green (Zone 6-9).

Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire'

A particularly colorful form of the shrubby Bloodtwig dogwood, these slender, upright stems glimmer in shades of yellow, orange and red. Reaching heights of up to 9 feet tall, Midwinter Fire is brillant when massed against a dark green hedge. The best color is on young growth; prune hard to the ground every two to three years to renew (Zone 4-8).

Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata'

Variegated winter daphne is a low-spreading, evergreen shrub clothed in narrow green leaves with golden yellow margins. This powerfully fragrant plant develops waxy pink and white flowers in late winter (Zone 7-9).

Grevillea victoriae

This Australian native thrives in poor soil, drought and reflected heat, making it perfect for city garden conditions. Spectacularly showy, beak-like winter blossoms in hot colors along with handsome foliage offer striking garden interest (Zone 9-10).

Mahonia x media

Large, frond-like leaves on upright stems create a stunning garden focal point. These stout plants are topped by sprays of golden flowers throughout January and February and act as a magnet for hummingbirds (Zone 7-9).

Hamamelis x intermedia

A shining star of the garden, witch hazels offer delightfully fragrant winter blooms and dazzling fall foliage. They're a good choice for smaller city gardens, growing slowly to 10 feet tall (Zone 6-9).

Yucca filamentosa 'Color Guard'

This tough plant brings architectural impact and a spiky texture to any garden throughout the year. Golden variegation glows on this and other named cultivars. This is an excellent choice for low-water-use gardens (Zone 5-10).

If the view outside your windows could use a seasonal lift, shop local nurseries now to identify plants that inspire cheer at this most inhospitable time of the year. Visit to find a highly rated nursery near you. 

Lorene Edwards Forkner, freelance writer, garden designer and food enthusiast, revels in the seasonal pleasures and broad scope of gardening in the Pacific Northwest. She's a contributing writer to Northwest Garden News and author of Hortus Miscellaneous.

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