While flowers of mahonias, witch hazels, and a variety of bulbs capture attention through the winter months, more matters of interest can be discovered by the curious gardener. In this garden, no more than a few hours are spent in winter labor, but regular afternoon strolls are rewarded with more treasures than only flowers.
While stems of the purple passionflower vine have died to the ground, ‘Waterloo Blue’ remains evergreen into mid December. A new flower started in a spell of mild temperatures in November, but the flower was damaged by repeated freezes prior to opening.
Rankin jasmine appears determined to flower through the winter despite recent nighttime temperatures in the upper teens. Flowers are ruined by the cold, but buds open with the next mild afternoon.
Dark leaves only slightly mottled by lacebugs do not detract from the winter appeal of ‘Dorothy Wycoff’ pieris. The red flower buds will gradually swell until flowering in early March.
Some berries of purple beautyberry (Callicarpa dichotoma) persist into early winter.
Several seedlings of the white beautyberry are scattered about the garden, so presumably birds harvest and scatter the berries.
Male and female organs on this ‘Sekkan-Sugi’ cryptomeria (Cryptomeria japonica ‘Sekkan-sugi). Pronounced yellow foliage in areas with less humidity is more muted in this Virginia garden.
Birds have stripped seed from most seedheads of hostas.
Seedlings of Northern sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) can be an abundant nuisance, but they are allowed to remain to sway in the winter breeze. Stems of grasses and perennials are cleared in late winter, or at least prior to new spring growth. This allows birds to feed on seeds, but more importantly, the delayed clean up allows the gardener to rest up for a busy spring.