Seeing Winter in a New Way

Seeing Winter in a New Way

Part of Ep. 202 Winter Garden Projects

Premiere date: Nov 30, 1993

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
I'm with extension horticulturist, Dr. Astrid Newenhouse and we're here at the arboretum to look at some trees and shrubs that can make your winter yard and garden more interesting. Astrid, when I think winter interests, I think color. Color is important, isn't it?

Astrid:
Color is important in a winter landscape and there's lots of ways we can get color, like the red bark on this Red Osier Dogwood

Shelley:
Or fruits such as these on the Donald Wyman Crabapple. These hang on the tree all winter. But most people, when they think winter color, winter interest, they think evergreens. What about the juniper behind us?

Astrid:
This juniper is a great example of winter color. It'll stay green all year long, even in the winter. But color isn't the only thing in a winter garden. There's shape, there's form, there's texture. I want to look at landscape plants in a new way, looking at those other aspects of beauty. This juniper is a great example of shape and form. Look at how the branches just reach up toward the sky. Isn't that pretty?

Shelley:
There's a warm, open feel to it. But when you say texture, I also think of coming in close and touching.

Astrid:
Right, I do, too. Texture is, to me it's kind of like describing a plant by feel. Would you describe it as twiggy, as course, as fine?

Shelley:
And then the berries add smooth in there, as well.

Astrid:
Yeah, or it may be spiny or prickly?

Shelley:
Or sharp occassionally, yes.

Astrid:
So it's the needles and the berries that add texture to this.

Shelley:
Well now, this is a fairly large one. What about for a smaller yard? Is there a juniper I can pick?

Astrid:
Oh there's lots of junipers. They come in all different sizes. They come in waist high, low creeping ones.

Shelley:
The ground hugging ones, yeah

Astrid:
Nice for a rock garden.

Shelley:
Or just a nice small yard. Well, In Wisconsin, a lot of trees lose their leaves in the winter. How would a bare tree have winter interests?

Astrid:
Oh, I think they're gorgeous.

Shelley:
What about this cork tree?

Astrid:
To me, walking outside in the winter, I feel like I'm stepping out into a line drawing or a charcoal painting. And the branching habit of this cork tree exemplifies that. Look at how the branches outline the sky, as if each branch is a brush stroke.

Shelley:
It's really beautiful, but I can see why it's called a cork tree, too. Look at the texture. It invites you to walk up close and touch it. Look at the ridges on the side of that.

Astrid:
Yeah, look at that.

Shelley:
Really beautiful.

Astrid:
Makes you just want to go up and feel it.

Shelley:
Yes.

Astrid:
Isn't that nice.

Shelley:
It is a corky feel to it, too. And it does have a color, actually. It has a very soft gray that would be beautiful in a winter garden. Now this tree and the juniper are fairly open and casual. What about something for a more formal garden?

Astrid:
Oh, there's lots of plants we could choose from.

Shelley:
Let's go look.

This is a cotoneaster. It has beautiful, bright red berries that add a nice touch of color to a winter garden. But that's not the only reason to plant this, is it?

Astrid:
Right, Shelley. There's lots of reasons to choose this plant. It has a fountain like growth habit. It has parallel branching in a real formal pattern. Look at the way those branches are all lined up next to each other.

Shelley:
Looks very geometric. And it has leaves, also. Do these stay on a while?

Astrid:
They stay on longer than most leaves do in the season. They don't stay on all winter, but they'll stay on later. Look at how shiny and glossy they are. They're really pretty.

Shelley:
So, they add a nice touch of color and texture, again, to this. Well the next one we're going to look at keeps its leaves all winter. It's an evergreen, but not with needles like we commonly think.

Astrid:
Yeah, this is a broad leaf evergreen. It's called boxwood and it will keep its leaves all through the winter.

Shelley:
Now, I've seen some where later in the winter they do turn kind of a bronze purple as they--

Astrid:
Right, it won't be as bright as this.

Shelley:
Now will it stay this size?

Astrid:
Eventually it'll grow up to be about five feet tall. But you could prune it to any size, even any shape that you want.

Shelley:
So, this would be perfect for a more formal garden where you really want to control the shape and size of it.

Astrid:
Yes.

Shelley:
Now this isn't a native. What about a native tree, something like the Juneberry?

Astrid:
Oh this is a gorgeous example of winter interest. When I look at a tree like this, I see a sculpture. I see a Henry Moore sculpture. Look at the way the branches, the trunks are all together there at the base, and then they're narrow and then they open up to like a vase shape. It's a gorgeous tree.

Shelley:
Oh, and I like the way the light plays on the bark, too. It really gives it almost a warm glow.

Astrid:
Yeah, it makes you just want to go up and touch it.

Shelley:
Yes.

Astrid:
The bark is so smooth and it's so rippled. Look at this. It's just so gorgeous.

Shelley:
It almost looks like it's human, like muscles or something.

Astrid:
Right.

Shelley:
Now this is a tree with year round interest, too. It has great fall color and edible fruit that tastes like blueberries in the spring.

Astrid:
That's right.

Shelley:
But I think my favorite reason is the texture, the touch. It almost looks like skin up there. This is a nice tree. I have a couple more I'd like to look at and the next one's my favorite. Wanna take a look?

Astrid:
Let's go.

Shelley:
This is yellow birch. It's another Wisconsin native. I think you can see why it's one of my favorites. Look at the color of this birch, the bronze colors and the silver bark, too. It's just gorgeous.

Astrid:
Oh, it's gorgeous, Shelley. Another thing about the yellow birch is that it's resistent to the bronze birch borer, which attacks paper birch.

Shelley:
Well, it's quite a deadly problem in Wisconsin, so a resistent variety like this would be an excellent choice.

Astrid:
Right.

Shelley:
It's a little hard to come by in Wisconsin, but I do know it's for sale. And I think it's worth shopping around for.

Astrid:
Oh, I definitely think it's worth getting.

Shelley:
You know, one of the other things that I like about it is that the branches, the twigs, taste like wintergreen. In fact they're used to flavor wintergreen oil.

Astrid:
Something I like about the branches is that they catch snow, or like in this case, they catch pine needles. That's texture.

Shelley:
Oh, that's beautiful. They just hang there, almost like little ornaments.

Astrid:
Yeah, look at that.

Shelley:
Now you know it's funny. We don't--we think of pine trees for winter interest, but we don't think of pine needles and yet if you look at the ground, that's where the winter interest is here.

Astrid:
Yeah, what's happening here--I mean talk about looking at landscape in a new way--is that the needles, at least in my mind, are acting as individual brush strokes, as if they're in a line drawing. Picture this on a background of white snow with each individual needle like a brushstroke.

Shelley:
Beautiful, so this is one tree, also, we wouldn't have to clean up under in the fall.

Astrid:
Well, I wouldn't.

Shelley:
It also has the beautiful green color. That's just so nice.

Astrid:
And it's so soft. It just invites touch again.

Shelley:
So it's a different kind of texture. I hear something else, too. I hear the wind through the branches, so it has sound interest.

Astrid:
Right.

Shelley:
Well, you know evergreens aren't truly evergreens. The needles that we see falling are three years old. So, that's what we're seeing carpeting the ground below us. Well, could you sum up: what should we look for when we're looking for trees and shrubs to purchase?

Astrid:
I'd look for form, shape, the overall form of the tree or shrub. I'd look for texture, both visual texture and up close, you know if when you feel the tree is it twiggy, course, spiny--

Shelley:
So touching and seeing.

Astrid:
Right, I'd look for color and I'd look for sound.

Shelley:
That's great. Thank you, Astrid.

Astrid:
You're welcome, Shelley.

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