Beautiful Branches: Grow a room with a view 

Beautiful Branches: Grow a room with a view 

Beautiful Branches: Grow a room with a view 
Viewer Perspective inside a covered wooden seating area facing Autumn trees of red, orange, and green.

There’s no denying that winter reveals our garden’s success stories. With bare branches and the absence of blooms, we can’t help but notice the shapes and silhouettes in our landscape. And we can’t help but notice the gaps, too.

That’s why, we’ve rounded up some favorite plant combinations to help you enhance your view. From sinuous Japanese Maples and pyramidal evergreens, to exfoliating bark and berry-heavy branches, there’s something here for everyone.

Love this look? Grow a grove of Japanese Maples. Their rich fall color and elegant silhouettes always make for a beautiful view.

PHOTOS: Getty (above); Doreen Wynja unless otherwise noted

Beautiful Branches (Zone 7 – 11)

The backdrop

Focus on beautiful bark and celebrate a windfall of pale pink winter flowers with this landscape centerpiece. Both you and the wildlife will love this.


Companion plant ideas

Develop a sense of order and a breath of formality when you add a pyramidal or architectural conifer.  (Thunderhead Japanese Black Pine comes to mind.) Large, bold succulents like Sapphire Skies Beaked Blue Yucca can also add structure and beauty. Layer in more texture and repeat the rounded forms of your centerpiece with an undulating understory. Evergreen foliage provides cool cover for wildlife while the nuance of a monochromatic palette lends sophisticated style.

Marina Strawberry Tree

Marina Strawberry Tree

Zone 7 – 9

This bird-friendly tree layers gorgeous bark under a low canopy of deep green leaves. In fall and winter, rosy panicles appear with red and yellow strawberry-like fruit. A smart choice for fire escaping. Evergreen. Learn more

Icee Blue® Yellow-Wood

Icee Blue®

Zone 9 – 11

One of the most beautiful and decorative pyramidal conifers for the South. Also, the first of its kind icy blue foliage. Use as a litter-free screen against unsightly views or for privacy. Evergreen. Learn more

Southern Moon® Yedda Hawthorn

Southern Moon®Yedda Hawthorn

Zone 7 – 10

Use in the mid- to back border as a punctuation mark. Glossy, deep green leaves edged add subtle shines in your winter garden. Dense, mounded habit bursts with white flowers in spring. Evergreen. Learn more

Golf Ball Pittosporum

Golf Ball

Zone 8 – 11

Dense, bright green foliage is an excellent alternative to Boxwood with little to no pruning. Natural rounded habit can look formal or add structure to a blowsy cottage garden. Evergreen. Learn more

Beautiful Branches (Zone 6 – 8)

The backdrop

Revel in winter’s low light when you grow plants with exfoliating bark out a west window. Backlit, they’re breathtaking.

Companion plant ideas

If your garden edges along footpath or reflects water, your understory choices make double the impact. Interplant a lower curtain of evergreens like Golden Ghost Japanese Red Pine with small trees. Alternatively, use larger shrubs that pop with colorful, bare bark (Variegated Red Twig Dogwood is stunning). A low evergreen shrub or groundcover rounds out this easy care combo.

Paperbark Maple


Zone 5 – 8

With maturity, russet shades of its papery bark peels back to reveal smooth, new honeyed cinnamon layers. Soft green leaves fill in upright branches that reach into a rounded crown, blazing scarlet in fall. Deciduous. Learn more

Ember Waves® Western Arborvitae

Ember Waves®
Western Arborvitae

Zone 5 – 8

In winter, this conifer’s green foliage transitions to deep, glowing gold. Discovered by our Craftsman, Rigoberto Pineda, this Monrovia exclusive has exceptional disease resistance, foliage color, and vigor. Evergreen. Learn more

Coral Bark Japanese Maple

Coral Bark
Japanese Maple

Zone 5 – 8

In winter, this small, upright tree has shed its yellow-gold leaves. The sinewy, bright coral-red branches light up your landscape. Excellent in front of evergreens, a fence line, or your front walk. Deciduous. Learn more

Kramer’s Red Winter Heath

Kramer’s Red
Winter Heath

Zone 6 – 8

Winter flowers! Joyful magenta-red flowers last through early spring. Dark green foliage fills in quickly as mounded groundcover. Mass plant along a pathway, the front of your border, or on a hillside. Evergreen. Learn more

Beautiful Branches (Zone 4 – 8)

The backdrop

Take the long view when you choose a slow-growing landscape tree. This matures into a colorful screen or that frames a beautiful view.


Companion plant ideas

With a slower growing tree, you have time to curate your understory. As well as plant for sun or partial sun before the backdrop casts shade. Whether you’re planting close in or designing for a vista view, we love a mix of colorful shrubs. Mix and match evergreens like Golden Ghost Japanese Red Pine. (Or try Enchanted Forest® Impish Elf™ Pieris, which is also stunning en masse). Combine with lower growing deciduous shrubs in odd numbers of at least three. Your garden and the wildlife will thank you.

Autumn Gold Gingko

Autumn Gold

Zone 4 – 9

Spectacular in the far back corner of the landscape, where it can slowly mature. Its symmetrical form will shine with dramatic fall color. Fruitless branches mean no mess, no stink. Deciduous. Learn more

PHOTO: Matt Anker via GAP Photos

Berri-Magic® Royalty Holly Combination

Berri-Magic® Royalty
Holly Combination

Zone 5 – 9

Lots of bright red berries to feed the birds and nourish your spirit all fall through winter. Dense, dark blue-green foliage on blue-purple stems tolerates shearing, if you like. Excellent for holiday décor. Evergreen. Learn more

Golden Charm Thread-Branch Cypress

Golden Charm
Thread-Branch Cypress

Zone 4 – 8

This gilded, easy care conifer offers the illusion of movement thanks to tiered branches. As well as the weeping, thread-like needles that drape over the entire shrub. Bright, golden yellow new foliage, even in full sun. Evergreen. Learn more

Pygmy Ruby™ Barberry

Pygmy Ruby™

Zone 4  8

This dwarf, globe-shaped shrub will drop its deep red leaves. Then a dense and tidy web of branches form a dense thicket that needs no trimming. Excellent for low maintenance mass planting. Deciduous. Learn more

Beautiful Branches (Zone 2 – 6)

The backdrop

Rethink lawn trees: they can be versatile in the landscape. Especially when they lend unusual branching or weeping habits (or magical spring catkins and fall color).

Companion plant ideas

If you've already got a neutral background, you can focus more on bark color and texture. For instance, if you have a sea of evergreens, a grove of Birches, or even an architectural wall. Discover standout foliage on Red Twig Dogwood and Angel® Ninebark. Or, add softness and movement with ornamental grasses like Blue Heaven Little Bluestem. It's coppery seed heads feed the birds even when its base is encased in a low drift of snow.

European White Birch

White Birch

Zone 2 – 7

Silvery white bark trunk sends out graceful branches that wave with waterfalling leaves. Fall color is spectacular. Stately in front of evergreens. Serene along walkways and in wide open spaces. Deciduous. Learn more

Sparkler® Colorado Blue Spruce

Colorado Blue Spruce

Zone 2 – 8

This colorful conifer heartily heralds spring. It does so by pushing bright yellow-gold new growth out at the tips of its mature blue-green foliage. Pyramidal with a dense habit that’s perfect for windbreaks or screening. Learn more

Prairie Fire Dogwood

Prairie Fire

Zone 2 – 7

In autumn, spicy red foliage falls to reveal flaming orange-red stems for winter drama. Later, spring’s golden foliage fades to soft, summery yellow. Always colorful, this four-season beauty is very hardy. Deciduous. Learn more

Massachusetts Kinnikinnick


Zone 2 – 6

Autumn foliage burns red-gold on this Northeastern native groundcover. Fall also sees summer's clusters of pale pink flowers become ornamental red berries. These persist into winter and feed the birds. Evergreen. Learn more

Want more design inspiration?

Be inspired by these gardens in both cold and warm zones. From olive trees to evergreen spires, beautiful branches come in all shapes, sizes, and textures. Which branches astonish or inspire you most?

Explore a woodland plant palette
for beautiful branches in your garden.

left: Branches are always beautiful in formal and offset pairs, adding movement and loose symmetry to your garden. Design with Constellation® DogwoodOrange Rocket Barberry, Paperbush Plant, and Canyon Blue Arctic Blue Leaf Willow. As well as Golden Japanese Forest Grass and CANNOVA® Orange Shades Canna Lily.

right: Layer your landscape with a variety of silhouettes, bark color, and textures to simultaneously attract your eyes and soften the view during walks and daydreams. You’ll fall in love with Japanese SnowbellJapanese StewartiaBlue Enchantress® Hydrangea, and Sutherland Hebe.

PHOTOS: Doreen Wynja

Woodland plant palette
Woodland plant palette
Upright branches
Branches under a flush of leaves

Reimagine branches
with a similar collection
of plants in your garden.

left: Sometimes a plant’s upright or compact habit gestures like a branch, but more boldly. Think of Blue Italian Cypress, Silver King Euonymous, and Madison Star Jasmine.

right: With a well-considered eye, you can imagine the beauty of branches even under a flush of leaves. Take a closer look at Majestic Beauty® Fruitless Olive, Everflame Red Hood Sedge, Painted Echeveria, Cape Rush, and Lavender Cotton.

PHOTOS: Doreen Wynja

Choose evergreen hedges and conifers
for beautiful branches all year round.

left: Formal evergreens are a mass of tiny branches that add structure and color to your garden all year round. Design with Leyland Cypress, Jade Enchantress® Cherry Laurel, Boston Ivy, and Dwarf Brush Cherry.

right: Conifers with candles and glowing foliage create a colorful, soft thicket of beautiful evergreen branches that lend beauty and cover for wildlife. Discover Gold Rush Dawn Redwood, Thunderhead Japanese Black Pine, Pygmy Ruby™ Barberry, and Dwarf Golden Arborvitae.

PHOTOSDoreen Wynja

Evergreen hedges
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2021-01-07 08:12:00

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