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Shrubs with Winter Interest

Flowering shrubs are our specialty, but we know that no landscape can rely solely on blossoms to carry it through the entire year. That’s why we round out our offerings with over 20 different evergreens and dozens of unique varieties with colorful fruit, foliage, and stems to brighten the dreary winter

Contributors: Stacey Hirvela

Classic Sophistication

If your style runs toward the refined and formal, you probably already love evergreens with tight, neat forms, like boxwood. And if you love boxwood, you’ll be especially excited to learn about Sprinter, the third boxwood to earn the Proven Winners® name. It grows at about twice the rate as other varieties! Sprinter boxwood reaches about 4’ at maturity, making it perfect for low hedges or specimen plantings. Like most boxwood, it is hardy to USDA zone 5.

Many people mistake Japanese holly for boxwood, since they appear identical to the untrained eye. However, Japanese holly has darker foliage and grows into crisper, more dramatic shapes, as you’ll see with Patti-O Japanese holly. Patti-O naturally grows into a broad cone for a formal effect that begs to be covered in twinkling lights. We called it Patti-O because it is exactly the type of plant you’d want in a container on your patio (get it?) or flanking your front door for a dramatic statement. Patti-O Japanese holly grows to 4’ tall and needs little pruning to keep its tight shape. It is hardy to USDA zone 6.

Go for Gold

Green is great – it’s the backbone of the garden, after all. But these gold foliage evergreens (or, shall we say, evergolds) add a little extra sparkle to the landscape and look especially magical in winter’s dim light. If you’ve got the space for a big, bold hedge, you can’t do better than Polar Gold arborvitae, a 12-15’ pyramid of sunshine. If you need something a bit smaller, we’ve got you covered with ‘Filip’s Magic Moment,’ a fun little pyramid of yellow fan-like foliage. It slowly attains heights of 6-8’ and is a much more stylish alternative to the ubiquitous Alberta spruce. Its sister plant is the adorable Anna’s Magic Ball arborvitae. It’s a darling little thing, forming a 10-15” golden ball at maturity. Both of these dwarf conifers will be right at home in winter window boxes or containers; all three of these arborvitaes are hardy to USDA zone 3.

Not every “evergold” is a conifer: wintercreeper euonymus is a glossy-leafed plant that can be grown as a groundcover, climber, or small shrub. Its colorful foliage makes it a popular choice for gardeners in zone 5 and warmer. Most varieties are variegated. As with many yellow plants, the color is most pronounced on new growth.

Even if you live in a warm climate and those coldest months aren’t all that cold, your short, chilly days still qualify as winter. Gardeners in zones 8 and higher can brighten their gardens – and their kitchens - with Sicilian Sunshine bay laurel. The fragrant foliage of this beautiful evergreen shrub is the same bay leaf in your spice rack. Sicilian Sunshine offers lemon-yellow new growth on bright red stems for an eye-popping effect that will make cold climate gardeners green with envy. Fortunately for us snow-bound gardeners, we can grow Sicilian Sunshine indoors on a sunny windowsill and try to forget about the snow swirling outside.

Berry and Bright
Winterberry holly is a native shrub that is as adaptable as it is beautiful, but at heights topping 6’, not everyone has the space to use it in their landscape. Our dwarf winterberry hollies, Berry Poppins  and Mr. Poppins, change all that. Berry Poppins is laden with bright red fruits from fall through winter but unlike its predecessors, it reaches a landscape-friendly 3-4’ tall. Mr. Poppins is the perfect consort, providing abundant pollen for Berry Poppins and staying the same manageable size. Though Mr. Poppins is a male plant and does not set fruit, this variety serves as the pollinator for Berry Poppins and all of our other winterberry hollies (a ratio of about 1 male to every 5 female plants should provide sufficient fruit).

Take a look at our Gardening Simplified for more information on all of our varieties and lots of ideas and inspiration for your landscape.

Patent Info:

Berry Poppins Ilex verticillata 'FarrowBP' PPAF Can. PBRAF; 'Magic Summer' Hebe PP: 20359; 'Frozen Flame' Hebe PP: 20376; Mr Poppins Ilex verticillata 'FarrowMP' PPAF Can. PBRAF; Sicilian Sunshine Laurus nobilis 'LNSS' PPAF; Anna's Magic Ball Thuja occidentalis 'Anna Van Vloten' PPAF Can. PBRAF; 'Filip's Magic Moment' Thuja occidentalis 'Filips Magic Moment' PP: 21974 Can. PBRAF; Polar Gold Thuja occidentalis 'SMTOBP' PPAF Can. PBRAF; Patti O Ilex crenata 'FarrowSK6' PPAF Can. PBRAF; Sprinter Buxus 'Bulthouse' PPAF Can. PBRAF

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