Garden Photo of the Day

Beauty in Winter

Smart plant choices keep a garden beautiful all winter long

Winter. It is long. And, for a gardener, often boring and painful. But it can also be a wonderful season in the garden. There are a lot of plants that look their best in the winter months, and with the ground frozen solid, you can actually enjoy them because there aren’t weeds to pull or vegetables to harvest or aphids to remove. If your winter view of the garden is drab and ugly, consider adding a few of these plants to make the long, cold months more enjoyable.

Ivy leaved cyclamen (Cyclamen hederifolium, Zones 4 – 8) is one of my all-time favorite plants, and mostly because those incredible leaves look terrific all winter long. Come spring, it goes completely dormant, with leaves dying back until the next fall, so it can share space with summer growing perennials with grace and ease.

Petra Williams sent in this picture of her weeping copper beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘Puple Fountain’, Zones 4 – 7) which shows beautifully how some trees really are their best in the winter when their complex branching structure is visible and shows up bright and clear against a backdrop of snow.

Great bark is an asset all year, but the intricate patterns of lacebark pine (Pinus bungeana, zones 5 – 8) are perhaps best appreciated in the winter months.

Angelina sedum (Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’) is a pretty yellow-green in the summer, but it is in the cold months that it really looks its best. Cold temperatures cause the leaves to blush copper and red, lighting up a winter landscape.

Autumn joy sedum (Hylotelephium ‘Autumn Joy’ zones 3 – 9) behind english lavender (Lavandula angustifolia, zones 5 – 8) growing here in the Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden make an elegant design of brown and silver that keeps looking good from fall to spring.

Have a garden you'd like to share? Email 5-10 high-resolution photos (there is no need to reduce photo sizing before sending—simply point, shoot and send the photos our way) and a brief story about your garden to [email protected]. Please include where you're located!

Sending photos in separate emails to the GPOD email box is just fine.

Have a mobile phone? Tag your photos on Instagram or Twitter with #FineGardening!

You don't have to be a professional garden photographer – check out our garden photography tips!

Do you receive the GPOD by email yet? Sign up here.


Follow us: @finegardening on Twitter | FineGardeningMagazine on Facebook | @finegardening on Instagram

View Comments


  1. frankgreenhalgh 01/19/2018

    Hey Joseph - Here is some red colouration from Down Under to add to your mix and hopefully help GPOD'ers overcome any winter blues. Pic. (1) Flowering gum (2) NSW Christmas bush (tall bush with red sepals) (3) Fuschia heath (4) Common heath (5) Red Five-corners (6) Sturt's desert pea (7) NSW Christmas bells (OK there is some yellow in there to add to the effect, and it may be closer to orange than red, but let's not let the facts get in the way of a good flower!). Cheers from the Wiz of Oz
    PS. Where are you Lilian?

    1. garden1953 01/19/2018

      These are all awesome, especially the last one. Thank you for sharing. Do you post photos on Instagram?

      1. frankgreenhalgh 01/19/2018

        Thanks Cherie - glad you liked them. I'm on FB, but not Instagram. Cheers, Frank

        1. user-4691082 01/19/2018

          No wonder you don’t get anything done all day, you entertain us on the FG blog and then wander over to Facebook! ?

          1. frankgreenhalgh 01/19/2018

            Heading for bed now though, Rhonda. Do you think there would be any interest in a white theme on Monday - or too close to snow? Cheers from this tired Aussie.

          2. user-4691082 01/19/2018

            We are interested in everything you post! Sleep well my friend!

          3. frankgreenhalgh 01/19/2018

            Such a diplomat!

          4. user-6536305 01/19/2018

            White would be a good choice for Monday. Show us that you could make Monday great again! I love the color of the snow as well.

          5. frankgreenhalgh 01/19/2018

            You are on for Monday, Lilian!

    2. User avater
      treasuresmom 01/19/2018

      Frank, do you know the botanical name of the flowering gum?

      1. frankgreenhalgh 01/19/2018

        Hi - It is Corymbia ficifolia - been reclassified from Eucalyptus ficifolia. There is a wide range of natural flower colours. We can buy grafted plants with selected flower colours, including orange. Cheers, Frank

    3. cheryl_c 01/19/2018

      Frank, with all those long, tubular flowers, I sure hope Australia has an army of able bodied hummingbirds. Your pictures this week have been real spirit boosters! Hope you will post 'white' on Monday - or cream/ivory?

      1. frankgreenhalgh 01/19/2018

        Hi Cheryl - no hummingbirds in Oz, but plenty of birds with the correctly shaped beaks to get the nectar out of the tubular shaped flowers. White with a touch of ivory (just for you) coming up next week. This pic. was taken near our property. Cheers, Frank

        1. user-6536305 01/20/2018

          Top notch photo, birds and flowers. Thanks for sharing.

        2. cheryl_c 01/20/2018

          Gorgeous!- which bird is this one?

          1. frankgreenhalgh 01/20/2018

            Eastern spinebill (male), Cheryl.

        3. user-7008735 01/20/2018

          That is a stunning shot!

    4. tennisluv 01/19/2018

      Once again, some really great flowers from the land down under. So many pretty shades of red with complimentary colors added in.

      1. frankgreenhalgh 01/19/2018

        Thanks Sonya - still waiting for the pics you submitted to GPOD admin. to see the light of day (hint, hint, Joseph - and we don't want any editing, old son!). Cheers from the Wizard of Oz

        1. tennisluv 01/20/2018

          I don't have much hopes of that occurring. My submissions only showed before and after pics of my new landscape - much to new and raw to be really interesting and not colorful at all - trees & shrubs to create the backbone - adding color with perennials are for the future (5 year plan). However, I suspect that our new blog master picks what he deems worthy of posting or wants to post. I hate it that worthy submissions from other GPODers are not getting posted. Still not getting the 8 or 10 pics asked for by you and others; so glad you are posting your additional colorful photos. You so absolutely make everyone's day.

          1. frankgreenhalgh 01/20/2018

            Hey Sonya. - Here is what I like about GPOD i.e. from the perspective of somebody from another part of the world. 1. Reading narratives/stories of gardeners etc written in their own words. It doesn't matter about the grammar or expression - it just needs to be natural. 2. Seeing photos of readers. There needs to be 10 pics., and it doesn't matter about the quality of the pics. 3. Interacting with fellow GPODers via informed comments, and some banter and good humour. 4. The almost instantaneous communication via the net.
            There is real danger that new administrative changes to GPOD will make the blog less appealing than previously. I would have thought that the blog needs to be market driven (ie demand driven, not editor push). It is very clear that GPOD'ers want 10 pics per post.
            If you read this Joseph - my question is - does the management of FG want the blog to be market orientated? If so why not do some market research to see what contributors and readers of the blog want from it etc. A perfectly reasonable and professional approach to the communication business of FG.
            Here endeth the sermon!
            Cheers, Frank

          2. cheryl_c 01/20/2018

            Thank you for this sermon, Frank. I agree with each of your points, and it seems to me that we are more of a collaborative matrix of gardeners, appreciating lots of new inputs, and, speaking for myself, I prefer that to being a fan club.

    5. User avater
      Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/19/2018

      Hot and wonderful! Love the Christmas bells; give me yellow fading through orange to red and I swoon. Just skimmed an interesting article on them and their protected status, but great cut flower potential. Blandfordia is an unfortunate genus name for a flower that is anything but bland!

      1. frankgreenhalgh 01/19/2018

        Yes you are right as usual, Tim - unfortunate genus name. Cheers mate

    6. User avater
      meander_michaele 01/19/2018

      From its flower shape, I would have thought the Christmas bells plant was a vine (reminding me a bit of honeysuckle) but I read that it's more a ground clumping plant. And, maybe I missed when you explained that NSW stands for New South Wales...right? You inspire us to do some homework , Frank, which is a good thing. I love all your pictures and I'm sure you'll make white fascinating and not at all similar to cold snow.

      1. frankgreenhalgh 01/19/2018

        Nice work with Dr Google, Michaele. Snow white and 7 pics. is on Monday! Cheers, Frank

    7. sheila_schultz 01/19/2018

      Love these blooms Frank! Have a fun weekend!

      1. frankgreenhalgh 01/19/2018

        Thanks Sheila - your friend Wiz

    8. edithdouglas 01/19/2018

      White post, please. All your posts are lovely
      1 Thanks.

      1. frankgreenhalgh 01/19/2018

        OK - Snow white on Monday, Edith.

    9. schatzi 01/19/2018

      Gorgeous pics again, Frank. Or should I say, as usual? Australia is a botanical wonderland. Thanks for sharing.

      1. frankgreenhalgh 01/19/2018

        Glad you liked them, Shirley.

    10. user-6536305 01/19/2018

      Good morning Frank! I am bounce and alive! Impressive floras of Australia again! This certainly brighten my day (my day was brighten enough but this takes it to a new level!) Thanks for sharing! Are these plants in your garden?
      Here is some red from British Columbia of Canada for you from top down and all zone 2-3 growing conditions
      1. Very low grow Bearberry, Arctostaphylos rubra on the trail of Shipyard & Titanic Trail in Monkman Provincial Park, Tumbler Ridge.
      2. Could not identify the plant but it was at Fraser Between Yukon, BC and Alaska boarders. May be Lorraine Robson and Cherry Eng could help identify it.
      3. September rose blooming at the W. A. C. Bennett Dam which generates 1/3 of B.C.'s electricity. We joint a bus tour went underground of the dam. I asked several people at Dam but no one knew the name of the rose. I would guess it could be a Canadian bred either from the Explorer and Artists series.

      1. user-7008735 01/19/2018

        Hi Lilian, Your middle photo of the red berries is red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa). Those red berries are enjoyed by birds but toxic to people. Our other native elderberry is S. cerulean which has glossy, bluish gray fruit clusters. The blue one is edible but not very tasty.

        1. user-6536305 01/19/2018

          Thanks for the ID Lorraine. Just Googled Sambucus cerulean and equally as beautiful.

          1. user-7008735 01/19/2018

            You are most welcome, Lilian. We're more likely to see the red version on our side of the Cascade Range; S. cerulea is more common on the eastern side of the mountains.

      2. frankgreenhalgh 01/19/2018

        Thanks for your comments and lovely pics., Lilian - and I'm super glad you are still with us. These plants are endemic to locations with different climates and soils. The only one in our garden is the flowering gum. I just have to get over to BC - all my Aussie friends who have visited there absolutely loved it and the people. Get your white flowers ready for Monday! Cheers, Frank

        1. user-6536305 01/20/2018

          BC and Rocky Mountains by far are the most beautiful place on earth. You need to rent a car and do a road trip to take it all in. Will try to host you as much as I could when you come. (I still work full time.)

          1. frankgreenhalgh 01/20/2018

            Thanks for your lovely and generous offer. I would also like to catch up with Cherry and Lorraine.

    11. user-7008735 01/19/2018

      Wow! These are gorgeous, Frank! The tube-shaped flowers of both the heaths remind me of Phygelius capensis (South African cape fuchsia), but they aren't even in the same family. The colouration of the Christmas bells against the dark stems is pure artistry.

      1. frankgreenhalgh 01/19/2018

        Thanks a lot for the feed-back, Lorraine. Cheers, Frank

  2. User avater
    treasuresmom 01/19/2018

    Love beech. We have an area of forest nearby that has many beech in it. We drive through that area in the winter so we can enjoy seeing them.

  3. user-4691082 01/19/2018

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a lacebark pine in person before. That is some cool camo bark!

  4. cheryl_c 01/19/2018

    The lacebark pine stopped me dead in my tracks - I also have never met one yet, but sure hope to soon. And the sedum with lavender = Wow - I'm imagining how that looks in August! I would add to your list contorted quince and add my own shot of sedum Autumn Joy

  5. greengenes 01/19/2018

    That is one beautiful pine! These are all great shots of winter fun. I find small evergreens bring such balance to deciduous trees and shrubs during the winter.

  6. rosemamainva 01/19/2018

    Thanks for brightening our day. The lacebark pine is gorgeous. Haven't encountered it either. And that stand of sedum Autumn Joy illustrates how valuable it is in all seasons. I've tried other sedums but keep coming back to it. haven't had much luck with hardy cyclamen. Has anyone in zone 7 had any luck with it?

  7. User avater
    meander_michaele 01/19/2018

    The patterns or pictures each person discovers in staring at the lacebark pine is kind of like a Rorschach inkblot test...compliments of Mother Nature. I see all kinds and sizes of bird silhouettes. I love the warm fiery glow of the winter 'Angelina' burning embers lit up by a gentle breeze.

  8. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 01/19/2018

    Nice. Love that Cyclamen but have had a hard time placing it where it doesn't rot in summer. Angelina is a gorgeous thug. I rip her out by the basket, but wouldn't want to be without her.

  9. sheila_schultz 01/19/2018

    I don't think I've seen a lacebark pine in the past because I'm pretty sure I would have remembered those mesmerizing splotches of color. Very cool! I also agree with Tim, Angelina is a gorgeous thug with the winter colors of a beautiful sunset! Thanks Joseph!

  10. edithdouglas 01/19/2018

    Wish I could find that cyclamen, but will keep an eye out for it. Have got the autumn joy covered though!

  11. user-6536305 01/19/2018

    These set of photos certainly changed my perspective on winter garden beauties. Never think that a bunch of trig and dead flower head could be this beautiful. This promotes me to view the plants and garden from a new angle. I especially like the last photo! Thanks for sharing Joseph!
    The following is today's photo of my 5 year old patch of Cyclamen hederifolium & Cyclamen coum growing from seeds (directly sown). It is under a maple tree and growing under shade. On the right side of the tree trunk is mostly Cyclamen hederifolium and left was Cyclamen coum.

    1. user-7008735 01/19/2018

      They look happy, Lilian. What are the two black knobby things?

      1. user-6536305 01/19/2018

        Two back knobby things are two cast iron ants.

        1. user-7008735 01/19/2018

          I can see it now! That's great, Lilian.

          1. frankgreenhalgh 01/19/2018

            Had me intrigued as well, Lorrraine.

  12. user-7008735 01/19/2018

    I love your photo of the warm rusty-brown 'Autumn Joy' with the silvery lavender and the tawny taller plant behind, Joseph. They are gorgeous contrasted with the cooler flat expanse of snow. I also love close-up's of tree bark and that lacebark pine is a beauty!

  13. jeffgoodearth 01/20/2018

    All beautiful but I will admit I am yearning for spring. Lacebark pines are one of my favorites and mine has FINALLY started showing that beautiful bark texture and color. Tim is spot on about Angelina,,,,,,,,,,,beautiful but aggressive

  14. perenniallycrazy 01/21/2018

    Swooning over these choices.

Log in or create an account to post a comment.

Related Articles

The Latest