Garden Photo of the Day

Garden Interest Through Winter

Finding garden beauty throughout the year

Today’s photos come from Melina Mantey. We’ve visited her garden before (Making a Cottage Garden) in warmer times of the year, but today we’re seeing how she keeps it beautiful and interesting through the winter.

It’s been a long winter in the Pacific Northwest. I think we recorded rain on 28 out of the 31 days in January. Since my garden plays such an active and ongoing role in my healing from PTSD, the winter is always a bit of a challenge for me. The rain and early evenings make it difficult to spend any significant amount of time outside, so I have worked really hard over the past couple of years to add year-round color and texture to my garden beds that I can at least see from my house. Although the physical part of gardening is really the best for “garden therapy,” being able to see pops of color and texture in all seasons is a huge boost, especially on those cloudy, gray days. Each year I feel better about the evergreens I have added to my landscape, but as any gardener does in the winter, I am already plotting what to add in this upcoming year to give it even more depth next winter. However, in the meantime, here is a peak at what I am looking at through my rain-splashed windows this year. As you will see, conifers, hellebores, sedum, and grasses play a huge role in keeping my landscape going this time of year.

fernsThese ferns and heucheras hold their foliage through the winter, providing interest through the gray months of the year.

HelleboresHellebores (Helleborus hybrid, Zones 5–9) are the quintessential winter bloomers, providing flowers when little else is blooming. New breeding and hybrids are expanding the range of option in this great group of plants.

ornamental grassesLeaving ornamental grasses standing through the winter keeps interest in the garden.

Hens-and-chicksHens-and-chicks (Sempervivium, Zones 4–8) are not only beautiful all winter, but they usually take on their brightest colors during cold weather.

hellebores in bloomMore hellebores in bloom.

Wide view of the garden.

Black mondo grassBlack mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’, Zones 6–9) contrasts beautifully with a variegated Euonymus behind it.

Hens-and-chicks nearly glowing in its winter color.


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  1. User avater
    meander_michaele 03/02/2020

    Amazing how a relatively small plant can be such an eye-catcher...such is the case with that hens and chicks which emanates the radiance of a morning sunrise...just looking at it makes me feel like it's going to be a good and happy day. Do you happen to know the name of that particular variety? And what is its summer color like?
    I plant that gives off a happy vibe for me, esp. throughout the winter, is the variegated yucca, 'Color Guard'. If you don't have one yet, I highly recommend it for 4 season interest. Just make sure it has good drainage.

    1. melinalynne 03/02/2020

      The "glowing" one is called Golden Nugget. I highly, highly recommend it! In the summer it is more of a light green with some tinges of pink, but first it goes more yellow, with red in the center. It's a really interesting one to watch change colors. I will look into "Color Guard." Thank you you so much for the recommendation!

  2. coastalgardener 03/02/2020

    I'm so envious of gardeners who have things growing and blooming throughout the long winter months. Here in my Massachusetts garden, there are interesting shapes from the plants I've left standing, but there is little or no color. I love the coloring on the hen and chicks plant, and the contrast between your euonymus and the black mondo grass. All very nice indeed!

    1. melinalynne 03/02/2020

      Thank you! I don't know as much about the east coast zones for gardening (although I was born in Vermont and know the landscape is pretty much snow), but hopefully you will be able to get something with color incorporated in soon :) It's no fun when everything just looks brown.

  3. User avater
    simplesue 03/02/2020

    Your Black mondo grass really has my attention. I've never thought of it as winter interest before- but it sure is! You've inspired me to plant some!
    That water feature you built looks interesting too- hope to see more photos of it, soon.
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. melinalynne 03/02/2020

      You're welcome! I planted my black mondo grass last year, and I am so glad I did. It's a good foil for all of the bright summer color as well. :) I am already seeing new little shoots of it popping up in other places, so just make sure you are okay with it spreading its wings.

  4. user-5117752 03/02/2020

    We've had a relatively mild winter here in WNC and all of my hellebores are in full bloom as are yours. It's such a treat! And, now all of the bulbs I've planted are popping up, daffodils are blooming as well as little iris and snowdrops, even one hyacinth! I started counting the months 'til spring in December and, now, too early, I think she's here. There was a lovely snowfall on Saturday and tomorrow it will be 65 degrees. Keep your spirits up!!!

    1. melinalynne 03/02/2020

      Thank you :) Enjoy your spring flowers! Mine are starting to go as well and it's wonderful!

  5. btucker9675 03/02/2020

    What a lovely garden! That black mondo grass is wonderful - I'm going to use it to edge the small slope on one side of my pool - should be a great contrast. Your hellebores are so pretty and inspire me to plant more.

    1. melinalynne 03/02/2020

      I kind of have a problem with hellebores. It's more of an addiction really. : ) Is it my fault there are so many beautiful colors? Happy planting!

  6. pattyspencer 03/02/2020

    That hens and chick is just beautiful

    1. melinalynne 03/02/2020

      I know, I love it too! It's called Golden Nugget.

  7. schatzi 03/02/2020

    Hello Melina. I also live in the PNW, in WA. It has been a wet one! Your garden is lovely. The sedums are gorgeous. And I also love Hellebores. Since they have been breeding them for more colors and better form, I have gone nuts over them! I have a large property and upwards of 60-70 Hellebores in all shades of pink, red, purple, white, yellow, bicolors, doubles...they really help me thru the winter blahs as they start blooming around Thanksgiving and are still going strong in March. I walk around the yard almost daily, telling them how beautiful they are. Enjoy your beauties and have a good recovery from PTSD. Life is good.

    1. melinalynne 03/02/2020

      Wow, I am so jealous of all of your space! The hellebores must look incredible as they all come into bloom. I don't know how many varieties I have, but I feel like at this point I must be up to at least 12 or so. I am also glad to hear I am not the only one talking to my plants :) They are such great listeners.

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