Plant a Winter Garden
Scented plants and shrubs with richly colored berries and leaves keep a garden looking alive and interesting during the long winter months. The beauty of growing well-chosen plants at this time of year is that you can cut fresh stems and sprigs from the plants to decorate and scent your home.
• Oregon grapeholly is an upright, evergreen shrub with dark-green, sharply toothed leaves that turn purplish in winter. In winter to early spring, depending on the gardening zone, it has spikes of fragrant yellow flowers with a scent similar to lily-of-the-valley.
• Chinese witch hazel is a deciduous shrub with extremely fragrant clusters of large, golden-yellow flowers on its bare branches in mid- and late winter.
• Viburnum is another deciduous, upright shrub with gray-blue leaves in summer that turn reddish in fall. In spring it has numerous, densely packed clusters of large, sweetly fragrant rose, pink or blush white flowers, depending on species.
• The small, bushy, evergreen Christmas sweetbox (Sarcococca) has long, slender, dark green leaves, tiny honey-scented, white winter flowers and black berries in spring.
Plants With Berries:
• The deciduous beautyberry has small but striking clusters of violet berries with bronze-purple foliage in fall.
• Single-flowering Rugosa hybrid roses bear large, plump, orange hips in winter.
• Chilean wintergreen aka prickly heath (Gaultheria mucronata) ‘Wintertime', an evergreen, female shrub, must be grown in groups with Chilean wintergreen ‘Thymifolia' to grow its round white winter berries.
• The evergreen American holly has shiny dark-green leaves and bears lots of attractive red berries.
Bulbs to Plant:
• Allium bulbs produce huge umbels of lilac-purple, star-shaped flowers about 12 inches high in spring or summer, depending on variety. Once the color has disappeared, in mild climates, they keep their structure through winter, turning almost silvery. Plant allium bulbs in fall, about three inches deep. They will grow anywhere, in any soil, but prefer full sun.
• Hardy cyclamen (different from the florist cyclamen, which is killed by frost) has fuschia-pink flowers and variably patterned silver and green leaves. It flowers in early spring, summer or fall, depending on variety. Plant bulbs about two inches deep in partial shade.
• Gladwin iris (stinking iris) produces attractive pods of scarlet seeds, which open in fall and re-main all winter. It grows 30 inches high and likes sun or shade and damp or dry conditions. Plant bulbs about two inches deep.
• Snowdrop is a vigorous, honey-scented variety with pendant white flowers that bloom in late winter. Plant the bulbs two inches deep in sun or partial shade in moist soil that doesn't dry out in summer.