After summer’s flowers fade and autumn’s foliage falls, what’s left? Well, think ahead and plan for the shoulder season of late fall to early spring. Plenty of sexy structure will keep the garden interesting during the downtimes. None of these "I want it" plants below are difficult to grow. They also don't get too large, or only look great in the winter. You’ll enjoy them year-round with a secret little smile knowing that come winter, the best is yet to come. Here are seven of our favorites for multi-season appeal.
Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick
(Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’)
With it's Dr. Seuss-like gnarled and twisted branches and terrific fall foliage color. As well as the showy greenish-yellow catkins in winter, this will be the one they talk about. Grown on its own root, will not produce suckers common from the understock of grafted plants.
Full sun. Slow growing up to15 ft. tall and wide. Zone: 3 – 9
Use: Does well in large containers. Excellent specimen tree. Use shoots in floral arrangements.
Red Twig Dogwood
(Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’)
Creamy white flowers bloom in late spring followed by white berries which ripen in mid-summer. Leaves turn reddish purple in fall, but it’s the red stems in winter that are it’s calling card.
Partial to full sun. Reaches up to 9 ft. tall and 5 ft. wide. Zone: 2 – 8
Use: Mass in an open space where red branches can be appreciated.
(Malus x ‘Centzan’)
Spring's rose-red blooms and reddish-green foliage are followed by cherry red fruits in fall. Fruits often remain on the open, lacy branches through winter, drawing in birds and other foragers.
Full sun. Reaches 25 ft. tall and 15 to 20 ft. wide. Zone: 4 – 8
Use: Specimen or plant several as a backdrop. Easily trained as an espalier.
Golden Duchess® Eastern Hemlock
(Tsuga canadensis ‘MonKinn’ P.P. #25,503)
Like a jewel in the landscape, this superb new dwarf nearly glows with golden yellow foliage on graceful, arching branches.
Full shade to partial sun. Reaches up to 4 ft. tall and 5 ft. wide. Zone 4 – 7
Use: Plant in mass in a woodland or rock gardens for a truly dramatic effect. Alternatively, use a single specimen in a container.
Coral Bark Japanese Maple
(Acer palmatum ‘Sangokaku’)
Few four-season plants can compare with this beauty. From the red-margined summer leaves and golden fall foliage to those amazing fiery red branches. This is an attention grabber any time of year.
Partial to full sun. Reaches up to 20 ft. tall and wide. Zone: 5 – 8
Use: Ideal small space tree in bright dappled shade or sun in cool areas. Can be planted in a large container to limit size.
Icee Blue® Juniper
(Juniperus horizontalis ‘Monber’ P.P. #9,639)
Looks great year round, but in winter, silver-blue foliage really shines (in coldest climates, turns plum-purple!) Dense crown creates a solid cover in a short time.
Full sun. Up to 8 ft. wide. Zone: 3 – 9
Use: Use on slopes for erosion control, let tumble over retaining walls, nestle against boulders, or add to mixed borders.
You'll love the smaller size, open habit, soft-green leaves, and scarlet fall foliage. Although, you'll grow it for the papery sheets of bark that peel to reveal cinnamon-brown new bark.
Full shade to partial sun. Slow, up to 25 ft. high and 20 ft. wide. Zone: 5 – 8
Use: Plant where you can enjoy the beautiful bark. Excellent front yard accent or woodland under-story accent.
Crabapple: GAP Photos/Dianna Jazwinski