What to plant for winter color?

jollyrd(Richmond VA)January 4, 2010

I am hoping to get some advice from you on what to plant for winter color in the area created by the retaining wall that had to be put in for the driveway. The bricks are facing east, the large dog you see in the picture is pointing to the west (yes, he sat where I told him). There is still some weed/grass that needs to be cleared out, but thats about it. We are in 7b zone. They native soil is clay, but I add and incorporate compost, leaves, and bagged garden soil when I plant and I use fertilizers (organic and not) as needed. Soil pH is about 5.8-6.0. The area gets full morning sun in summer and shade in the late afternoon. In winter the sun rises and sets a bit off to the south but the area still gets decent amount of sun till about 2-3 pm. House is in remote area, not another house nearby, no "shading neighborÂs trees" to worry about, etc.

The dogs cannot get into this small area/bed  they are on wireless "fence"  they have to stop at the crape myrtle and before the retaining wall "grounds"  so I am not afraid of dog damage to the plants. This is only a two-year old house and not much has been planted yet. There are some native plants already in place  very tall old pine next to the dogs (you can see the trunk, it does not make too much shade, but probably has some major roots; we can knock it down if we want to but I donÂt think we have to), maple tree (light color trunk to the right), wax myrtle bush (by the small pine tree I planted); also, there are some native hollies, southern magnolia and dogwood behind the area (to the right of the dog) that can be seen from the house but not so much from the driveway. There is a bird bath and bird feeder there  birds like all that shrub area.

I planted crape myrtle (deep red color), 5-6 carpet junipers (starting near crape myrtle and down and to the front), small pine tree (that I hope will not grow too big). I have tulips and crocuses planted for spring bloom - stretching from juniper to the clay pot in the front. There are 2-3 liriope behind the clay pot. I grew from seed beautiful "patriotic" petunias in the clay pot and around it; and I planted some tiny "snow" flower in the lower section of the wall (you can see few dried clumps of them).

So, what should I plant so that there is flowers and color this time of the year? I am hoping to have some color in the front visible from the road and also was hoping to block the view of the veg garden in the back. So some sort of medium-height hedge starting from crape myrtle and continuing to the old pine? No more major trees, - there is a vineyard and veg garden in the back.

Give me some ideas, please. Thank you.

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There's an excellent plant for walls, Jasminum nudiflorum.


You can back it with yellow or red twigged dogwoods, Cornus 'Silver and Gold' - a variegated leaf, native dogwood



You could also grow some deciduous holly, Ilex verticillata, which has red winter berries, variety 'Winter Red' is generally considered the best. There are also shorter varities of Ilex verticillata available.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2010 at 4:59PM
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Nandina-- (evergreen--)heavenly bamboo. Mahonia.( Evergreen, Blooms in January.)
Witch hazel, hamamelis, (yellow, orange or red blooms, blooms February.) Skimmia (be sure you get male and female)Evergreen, Berries, Dec-March. Hellebores (bloom Jan-March,)

    Bookmark   January 9, 2010 at 10:56AM
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taxonomist(7b VA)

I'm guessing that you live in Chesterfield Co. Why don't you make a visit to the Lewis Ginter Garden in Lakeside. It's not the greatest place in the nation, but you can certainly see what's in flower now and all springtime.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2010 at 7:55PM
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Lee@A Guide to Northeastern Gardening

Some nice low lying evergreens trailing over the wall such as juniper procumbens nana or blue rug would help soften it. For winter interest holly, leucothoe, witch hazel, red twig dogwood, yellow twig dogwood, vibernum, rependens yew and winterberry add a nice touch. Cluster the plants in groupings of odd numbers plus you could also add some boulders in between for interest.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2010 at 7:03PM
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