Sunday, February 5, 2012
My daughter, Katie had the opportunity to explore the Joseph A. Witt Winter Garden at the Washington Park Arboretum a few days ago. Originally designed and planted in 1949 it has gone through several renovations – encouragement for all those of us who have to periodically edit and re-think our own gardens!
I found the photographs she took a wonderful inspiration for new winter ideas in my own garden which I thought you would also enjoy.
My clients often tell me that what they love most about my landscape and container garden designs is the way I combine plants to achieve beautiful color echoes and memorable vignettes. If I’m honest, however, I tend to focus on spring and summer combinations yet these images have reminded me of the extraordinary beauty when time is taken to pay attention to winter groupings; a time of year perhaps when we need the greatest lift to our spirits as the rainy days, cold winds and heavy snow storms seem endless – at least here in the colder climates.
Certainly many gardeners are familiar with the concept that a mass of red or yellow twig dogwoods makes a stunning winter display, especially when emerging from a blanket of snow. However, I really love the way the yellow-green stems of these dogwoods stand in stark contrast to the carpet of black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus nigrescens). So simple yet so effective. I might even be tempted to underplant the mondo with yellow crocus to repeat the dogwood color in spring, or perhaps the dwarf ‘Tete a tete’ narcissus.
One Chinese witch hazel (Hamamelis mollis) is attractive but when a group flank either side of a walkway they create a colourful and fragrant journey. Spidery flowers in shades of yellow, red and bronze are a welcome sight on a grey Seattle day. Skirted by the rich green foliage of hellebores (Helleborus sp.) and large fleshy elephant ears (Bergenia sp.) now tinged red in cold weather, this winter vignette could be adapted for the smaller garden with ease.
Who can resist running their fingers through a curtain of dangling catkins? Obviously not Katie who stopped to enjoy the improbably long catkins of this silk tassel (Garrya sp.) swaying gently in the breeze!
Despite the recent heavy snowfall many early flowering Rhododendrons are ready to burst into full bloom promising bold visions to come.
An entire book could be written about this gem of a garden and I haven’t begun to do it justice. However every picture tells a story of winter beauty that is pure eye candy as well as a source of ideas for captivating combinations for the home garden.
To find out more about this wonderful winter garden, to see a map and print a full plant list, enjoy their website. Better still, if you are in the Seattle area grab your camera and head over there for a leisurely stroll.
With many thanks to my daughter Katie for the use of her beautiful photographs and idea for this post.
To see this winter wonderland under a blanket of snow enjoy renowned photographer David Perry's recent post and spectacular images