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Colorful Container Gardens for Chilly Weather

You don't have to settle for the drab grays and browns of fall and winter: create a cool container garden. Plus, get ideas for trees and shrubs that shine in cold weather.

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Photo: Swansons Nursery

Spicy Hot

The winter-red foliage of heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica) accompanies Heuchera 'Amber Waves' (USDA Zones 4 to 9) and Sedum 'Angelina' (hardy to Zone 3). The pastel pink and yellow pansy mix helps tie the other plants together. 'Amber Waves' is valued for its amber-colored foliage with rose undersides, which is virtually evergreen in warmer climates. Its ability to remain evergreen and hold its color in colder climates depends on the severity of cold temperatures. Hardy to USDA Zone 6, the nandina is the least cold-tolerant of the grouping.

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Beating the Winter Blues

Check out the vibrant colors of golden variegated sweet flag and wood spurge, and the blue pansies add just the right spark. Sweet flag (Acorus gramineus 'Ogon') is hardy to Zone 5 (although it may not be reliably so in the colder parts of Zone 5) and is evergreen, or rather ever-golden, in warmer climates. Its partner, golden wood spurge (Sedum 'Angelina'), can be planted in full sun to partial shade and is hardy to USDA Zone 3. Its needled foliage is a perfect complement to needled conifers.

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Art with Foliage

Copper-colored and dark green, the fronds of the autumn fern (left) complement the orange-pink leaves of coral bells (right). Erupting with an assortment of bold foliage textures and colors, this pot is a horticultural tour de force. And, notice, no flowers. The green sedge (Carex dipsacea, hardy to USDA Zone 7), will eventually go dormant for the winter, turning soft russet tones. Ornamental grasses are not only great for providing a flush of color and texture but also for adding sound in the winter, swishing in the wind.

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Lime-Green and Yellow

Golden creeping jenny (Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea'), with its spreading habit and brilliant color, spills over the edge of this winter container. It's hardy to USDA Zone 3. In deep cold, creeping jenny fades, but next season it will strike back with a vengeance.

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