Great plant choices for winter colour

When you live in Canada, learning to extend your gardening season is important. Even beautiful Vancouver with all of the snow they received last winter will be thinking about what they can do. Okay, maybe the fine folks of Vancouver are simply thinking about how to cope with the ice and snow in hopes it will never happen again.

For the rest of us, adding a few plants for winter colour can turn a crisp snow-white canvas into a picturesque landscape. Let’s be honest, winter can be a long season here in Canada and a little colour can go a long way. Having trees, shrubs and evergreens, peering out of the snow with colourful bark (other than the usual gray or brown) and colourful foliage, in the case of evergreen, can help achieve this goal.

Landscape professionals will often recommend 50% of the plant mass you see in visual areas, like your front yard (where you drive up to every day) or outside that big picture window, be evergreen. With their green and blue foliage, yews, cedars, junipers, pines and spruce can be seen year round. Not the most exciting colours but compared to plain white it is a start. Now for the colour. Using tree bark to contrast with the snow, you can plant Pin Cherries (red), Amur Cherry (golden bronze) and Golden Willow (yellow). In chinook areas where snow is not always as prevalent, some may like the white bark of Parkland Pillar Birch or Cutleaf Weeping Birch to contrast against the brown grass.

For berry colour over the winter, Mountain Ash varieties will hold their berries long into the winter and range from orange to red, as well as, feed the birds. Orange berries will grow on Black Hawk and Russian with Cardinal Royal and Pyramidal having orange/red fruit and Showy Mountain Ash red fruit. Other trees that bear fruit are the flowering crabapples and the best varieties with persistent fruit (fruit that holds on for most of the winter) are Radiant, Starlite, and Red Jade. The fruit is small, bright red, less messy compared to other crabapple varieties and easier to eat for wildlife because of its small size.  

Great shrub choices for colour are Baton Rouge, Siberian, Artic Fire and Red Osier Dogwood (all with red stems). Bud’s Yellow Dogwood (yellow stems) and Kesselringi Dogwood (purple stems). Now when it comes to the rest of your garden, or those areas you only see in the summer when you are in the yard with family and friends, go crazy with colourful plants such as annuals, perennials, roses and shrubs that have attractive foliage and may have beautiful flowers. Also, mix the colour in with your winter colour plants for an overall great look. Check out your local garden centre for the following brands of plants; Bylands, Proven Winners®, First Editions®, HGTV Home™, Incredible Edibles®, Endless Summer® and Bushel and Berry™.

Happy Gardening!


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 Guest post by Rich - Bylands Account Representative

My personal garden is now 17 years old and most of the trees 19 years. shrubs, evergreens and perennial beds are all bordered with large sandstone boulders.  Two reasons I have had to replant each year are: Shasta Daisy was a white German Shepherd and Georgia Peach is a caramel with white and black Shepherd, Husky something cross.  My dogs are always named after plants.