Garden Photo of the Day

December in an Oregon Garden

Quiet beauty in the cold months of the year

Today we’re visiting Nancy Sarpola’s garden in its winter garb.

Hi GPOD folks, I have sent you several batches of photos of our quarter-acre Oregon hillside garden over the years. (Check out those posts here.) This batch was taken the end of December. The light is muted, and so are the colors this time of year, but there is still some quiet beauty.

winter jasmineThis photo shows winter jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum, Zones 6–11) in bloom with variegated Daphne odora ‘Maejima’ (Zones 7–9) in front of it. Winter jasmine blooms off and on all winter here except when it gets really cold.

evergreen CarexHere we see a path with grassy, evergreen Carex. Near the top of the photo, Mahonia ‘Charity’ (Zones 7–9) blooms in yellow.

Pieris japonicaLooking up the stone steps. There are dried grasses to the right and a Pieris japonica (Zones 5–9) with rosy buds that will bloom in March.

melianthusLooking toward the birdhouse in the cherry tree in late December. On the hillside are dried hydrangea blooms and the blue-gray foliage of melianthus (Melianthus major, Zones 7–12), which is often killed to the ground in winter but has survived so far this year. Behind that is a bright, variegated Euonymus.

Bergenia cordifoliaThis picture shows Bergenia cordifolia (Zones 3–8) with its leaves turning glossy red in winter and picking up the color of the rosy Pieris japonica buds behind them.

Clematis cirrhosa 'Freckles'The sun came out for a couple of hours, and I got a photo of the Clematis cirrhosa ‘Freckles’ (Zones 7–9) in bloom overhead on the arbor.

shrubby dogwoodThe last picture shows the stems of a young shrubby dogwood (Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’, Zones 4–7) backed by an evergreen Osmanthus.


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View Comments


  1. User avater
    meander_michaele 01/07/2020

    Hi, Nancy, as I scrolled through your lovely photos, I couldn't help but think of your winter garden as a gentle soothing lullaby. Ha, no, not that I'm saying that it put me to sleep... but it made me feel calm, content and safe. All the muted colors harmonize in such a tranquil way. However, I also loved the energizing final picture of those amazing ‘Midwinter Fire’ stems...nothing quiet or subtle about them!

    1. OregonGardenGal 01/07/2020

      Hi Michaele, I always appreciate your encouraging comments and thoughtful observations. Thank you!

  2. CTpat 01/07/2020

    Hi, Nancy--Your garden is lovely as always. It's nice to know there are places where things still bloom in December. When you say the winter jasmine will bloom unless it's "really cold", what sort of temperature are you thinking? I'd love to have one, but it gets colder here in CT, even along the coast, than you get.

    1. OregonGardenGal 01/07/2020

      Oops. I replied a couple of comments down! Thanks for your comments.

  3. coastalgardener 01/07/2020

    Oh my, you are so brave to show your garden off in the winter! I have to admit, though, it really is stunning with all of the varying plant shapes and the vibrant colors. Beautiful!!

    1. OregonGardenGal 01/07/2020

      Thanks coastal gardener. A winter garden sure isn't as colorful as summer but I enjoy the change of seasons. (Though about February, I'm ready for winter to be done!)

  4. User avater
    simplesue 01/07/2020

    Still so pretty in this season, and even with flowers...gee. I don't think I've seen a flower in Pittsburgh since last year....nice to see them here.

    1. OregonGardenGal 01/07/2020

      Thanks for commenting Sue. We have a pretty mild climate though expecting snow next week!

  5. btucker9675 01/07/2020

    Your winter garden is lovely - gentle and calm. Love the soft yellow spill of the winter jasmine, and the "freckles" clematis is charming. Great to have it on the arbor so you can look up into the blooms. I've always liked the way dried grasses look in winter - especially in my previous garden in NJ when they would be coated in ice and glistening golden in the sun. Never understand people who chop them down immediately after the summer is over!

    1. OregonGardenGal 01/07/2020

      I bet the sun on the icy grasses is absolutely beautiful! What makes Oregon winters long is the lack of sun for weeks at a time but I try to find something to enjoy outside most days anyway.

  6. OregonGardenGal 01/07/2020

    Hi CTpat, If it is in the 20's for several days, the flowers on the winter jasmine freeze. Often our winters have strings of days in the mid 40's and nights mid 30's with rain. The jasmine blooms during those periods which is much of the winter.

    1. CTpat 01/07/2020

      Hmm, I suspect that means if we have a string of 10 degree nights the jasmine wouldn't like it much. Thanks for the information!

      1. OregonGardenGal 01/07/2020

        It's a zone 6 to 10 plant. The cold affects the flowers more than the plant, but of course winter flowers are the main point of growing it. This one survived up against the house when we had a week of near 0 degrees 6 or 7 years ago. Very unusual for us to be that cold.

  7. [email protected] 01/07/2020

    What part of Oregon? I live in Washington, in a zone 8 area near the Cascade foothills, and am adding that winter Jasmine to my list of wanted plants! Loved all of your photos- Thanks

  8. [email protected] 01/07/2020

    Aha! Corvallis! Went to your earlier posts, and your garden looks so inspiring, in all seasons!

  9. Cenepk10 01/07/2020

    Wasn’t that a delightful feast for the eyes ??? Really nice gardens. I appreciate you sharing!

  10. user-7452878 01/08/2020

    My goodness this is gorgeous! I often see Pieris Japonica here in Chicago (at the garden centers), pick it up, put it back down because I couldn't imagine it looking like it does in this garden. All of it is so beautiful! thank you for the inspiration

  11. user-5117752 01/12/2020

    Just love all of your pictures and, of course, your garden! Your winter look is still warm and charming. I love the picture of the Bergenia in front of the Pieris. I can never seem to get my Bergenia to grow like yours and I've moved it to what I thought would be a better location. Any suggestions? I'm in zone 7 in western NC.

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