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Use this cold weather to plan next years winter garden
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Now that the holidays are behind us, along with the record-breaking single-digit temperatures, many winter seasonal gardening plans can be made.

I am always looking at ways to add color and interest to the drab outdoor surroundings this time of year. While it is not the most opportune time to buy items for planting, we can scout through seed and garden magazines for ideas for next spring and fall. Look for ways to add a new perennial garden, Japanese Garden, a water garden or a conifer collection garden.

This year, I am going to work on planning a winter garden. What a novel idea!

Many people write off thinking about a winter garden. But what could be more appealing in the colder months than a glorious view from a kitchen window of lively, colorful flowering plants, bark-colored trees and shrubs bearing bright berries?

One way to add interest is to think of plants with bright-colored berries. Early winter-bearing shrubs such as “beautyberry” might be a wonderful addition to your garden for this year’s cooler season. The bare limbs of the shrub are full of attention-attracting purple berries.

The holly “winterberry” is a beautiful plant with bright red berries that sparkle through the holiday season November through January. Pair them with beautiful evergreen trees to show a contrast against the green needles for a striking look.

Of course, other plants such as nandina, viburnum, dogwood and other types of holly bear bright fruit as well. The red twig dogwood is one of my favorites with its striking red stems.

As you sift through garden catalogs, look for colored foliage plants as well. Many Japanese maples can be planted, preferably in the fall, to add colored foliage in a garden. Most maples hold their color late into the year as well.

One of my favorite maples is the coral bark Japanese maple. After the leaves have fallen, it has a gorgeous salmon-red bark that is a wonderful addition for winter interest in the garden.

Don’t forget flowering plants such as Lenten roses (Hellebores) and the many types of camellia bushes that bloom in late fall and continue through February. The pink perfection and yuletide camellia are some of my top picks.

Plant a paperbush, flowering quince, forsythia and the many types of witch hazel that start blooming on bare branches before they leaf out throughout the winter. The fragrant paperbush plant often starts blooming in December with lovely velvety tiny yellow blooms.

A beautiful, thornless flowering quince called the “cameo” blooms in late winter with cup-shaped peachy pink blooms. Beautiful!

And don’t forget the many evergreen plants that can be used to overcome the bleak landscape as well. Deodar cedar, Arizona cypress, Hinoki cypress, cryptomeria and arborvitae are among the many favorites!

There is planning to do for this coming winter season. Why not add some of these beautiful winter interest plants to your garden for next year?

Planting can begin in spring. With a little research and planning, your landscape can truly have year round beauty. You won’t be disappointed.

Wanda Cannon serves as Master Gardener coordinator and horticulture assistant for the UGA Cooperative Extension office in Hall County. Contact her at 770-535-8293 or Her column appears biweekly and on