Sunday, December 26, 2010

Winter Landscape Garden Photos: The Beauty of Nature's Artwork

The snow is falling in the Northeast and the view is beautiful.   I had to run outside and take advantage of this photo opportunity.  There is nothing more breathtaking than a winter's first snow and this is it.  It has only been snowing for a few hours and the ground and gardens are already covered in a blanket of shimmering white.  Enjoy the photos.  I am sure there will be more once the storm passes.

Waterfall and White Pine in snow
Nature's Artwork (after the storm)
Snow Covered Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar

Magnolia in Snow
Snow covered Weeping Norway Spruce
Nature's Framework (Weeping 'Youngi' Birch in snow)

The Quiet of Nature (Blanket covered Dwarf Serbian Spruce)

Nature's Artwork (Weeping Japanese Maple)
Snow topped Montgomery 'Globe Spruce' (grafted)

The color of springtime is in the flowers, the color of winter is in the imagination. ~Terri Guillemets

"Every gardener knows that under the cloak of winter lies a miracle ... a seed waiting to sprout, a bulb opening to the light, a bud straining to unfurl. And the anticipation nurtures our dream."
- Barbara Winkler

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Winterizing Evergreens-Anti-Desiccant Spray

Have you ever noticed scorched and browned foliage on certain broad-leaved evergreens after winter? Winter cold and winds can be harsh on your landscape. Evergreen trees and shrubs maintain foliage throughout the winter months where they continue to lose moisture. With winter temperature fluctuations, moisture loss and the ground still frozen, transpiration occurs from the needles and leaves increasing water demand. If the roots cannot keep up with these demands the needles and leaves start to turn brown and die.  Winter burn or desiccation is a dehydration of the plant due to water loss from the leaves through transpiration. This is caused by long dry periods of cold and thaw along with winter winds. Some broad-leaved evergreens such as holly, rhododendron, cherry laurel, skip laurel, mountain laurel, Japanese Skimmia, Osmanthus (False Holly), Leucothoe, Aucuba and Boxwood are even more susceptible to winter drying and long-term damage.  An easy way of avoiding winter damage to plants is to apply an anti-desiccant spray to the upper and lower parts of the foliage before the temperatures drop below freezing or during a winter thaw.

PLANTS PRONE TO WINTER BURN: broad-leaved evergreens such as Boxwood, Holly (examples include: Oakleaf Holly, Nellie Stevens Holly, Sky Pencil Holly, Hoogendorn, Northern Beauty, Steeds and other compact Holly), rhododendron, cherry laurel, skip laurel, mountain laurel, Japanese Skimmia, Osmanthus, Leucothoe, Aucuba, Southern Magnolia, Euonymus and Japanese Andromeda.

WHEN TO APPLY: Apply anti-desiccant when the daytime temperatures start falling below 50 degrees (Fall-late October/mid-November here in zone 7). Apply when the temperatures are above freezing and there is no threat of rain or frost within 24 hours. (This tip applies to areas going into their winter season-temperatures dropping below freezing: 0 degrees Celsius or 32 degrees Fahrenheit.) Anti-desiccants are organic and break down under heat and light so it is recommended to spray again in late winter if there is a prolonged winter thaw. The newer brands of anti-desiccant such as Wilt Stop and Transfilm are produced to last throughout winter with good coverage.

DANGERS: Be sure to read all directions on the label since anti-desiccants can cause photo toxicity on some narrow needled evergreens such as Arborvitae, Hinoki Cypress and Spruce that could cause more harm than winter burn.  Spraying in freezing temperatures will do harm to the plant.  Do not spray in freezing temperatures and allow time to dry before temperatures drop below 32oF or 0oC.

HOW OFTEN DOES IT NEED TO BE APPLIED: Sudden warm spells can trigger your evergreens to open their pores allowing for more water loss. If there is a winter thaw part way through the season it is recommended to re-spray your plants but only if the temperatures are to remain above freezing for at least 24 hours.

WHERE DO I PURCHASE ANTI-DESICCANT?: The most commonly used brands of anti-desiccant are Wilt-Stop and Transfilm that can be found in nurseries, garden centers or ordered online. Ask your landscape professional for more information.

HOW IT WORKS: Anti-desiccant spray is organic and biodegradable. It adds a protective waxy coating to the tops and undersides of the leaves of broad-leaved evergreens to help slow the process of transpiration which causes water loss and winter damage.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Designing The Winter Garden – Creating All Year Interest in the Landscape

Welcome to the world of winter gardening.  As a landscape designer the three major aspects I look at when designing any landscape are structure, form and function. Even though all three are equally important the structure and form of a garden especially come into play during the wintertime. When designing for winter interest it is important to look at the backbone or framework of the garden. An assortment of evergreens along with deciduous trees and shrubs can help to accomplish this task. An important factor to consider is the branch structure of your trees and shrubs. There is nothing more beautiful than the gentle touch of a winter’s first snow on the branches of trees. Form and structure of trees and shrubs in the landscape offer the most interest when they are unusual in some way. For instance the crooked shaped curly branches of a Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick or Corkscrew Willow are most prominent once their leaves have fallen and each attracts a lot more attention for their unusual structure during the winter than any other time of the year.

The first step in designing a winter garden is to plan for a backdrop of evergreen trees, which will catch the winter snow and show a continuum of green throughout the winter months. Evergreens that show nice winter interest with deep evergreen coloring and bright red berries include hollies such as Ilex ‘Nellie Stevens’, Ilex aquiparynl ‘Dragon Lady’, Ilex crenata ‘Fastigiata’ or ‘Chesapeake, Red Oakleaf Holly or any of the blue Hollies such as Ilex meserveae ‘Blue Maid’. Other evergreen trees that serve as winter interest include Eastern White Pine, Japanese Cryptomeria, Blue Atlas Cedar, Blue Spruce, Western Arborvitae, Arborvitae ‘Emerald Green’, Golden Oriental Spruce, Norway Spruce, Weeping Alaskan Cedar, and Vanderwolf’s Limber Pine.

Much of the color in a winter garden comes from fruiting trees and shrubs. Along with members of the holly family, fruiting shrubs such as barberry, nandina (heavenly bamboo), callicarpa (beauty bush), vibernum, red chokeberry, winterberry and yew add interest to the garden and supply a food source for birds. Deciduous shrubs such as hydrangea and spirea also add much interest with their full branching structure and left over flower heads that glisten when frosted over. Ornamental grasses when left intact offer color to the winter landscape as well and act as a food source for birds.

Branching deciduous trees such as Crepe Myrtle, Magnolia, Birch, Weeping Cherry and Wisteria have an interesting layered branch structure that adds form to the winter garden. Known for their bark Coral Bark Maple (Acer palmatum 'Sango-kaku') and Red Twig Dogwood (Cornus sericea Stolonifera’) come to mind. The striking pinkish-red bark of Coral Bark Maple and bright red bark of the Red Twig Dogwood are an eye-catching display of color during the cold months of winter. Another shrub form of dogwood, Cornus sericea ‘Flaviramea’ or Yellow Twig Dogwood offers showy bright yellow stems that are pronounced against a snowy backdrop. River Birch with its cinnamon colored bark in winter is also an excellent highlight. Other shrubs and trees known for their interesting structure include Weeping Japanese Maple, Weeping ‘Youngi’ Birch, Harry Lauders Walking Stick and Sycamore. There are even shrubs that bloom in winter such as Witch Hazel with its yellow blooms.

When it comes to structure different hardscape items can be used to add interest and dimension to the landscape. The use of strategically placed boulders for example can add some drama and impact to an ordinarily flat landscape. I often use a boulder border on chosen garden beds to add height to an area or add a large rock surrounded by low lying plantings so that in the winter there is added interest. The use of walls, fountains, birdbaths or garden art can add to the winter landscape as well and capture interest all year round.

The possibilities in the world of gardening are endless and a garden can be designed for all seasons. I hope you have found this information useful and that you too can add some winter interest to your landscape.

Author: Lee @A Guide To Northeastern Gardening Copyright 2010. All Rights Reserved.