Winter's Blush

Sometimes it's the flowers that blush - 'Edward Goucher' abelia

Rosy cheeks (and noses) are as much a part of winter as woolly scarves and mittens, but do you realize how many shrubs also take on a winter blush?

A stroll around my garden this morning made me appreciate anew that the garden is never really dormant – there is always something new to discover.

Here are just a few of the broadleaf shrubs showing their softer side this season.

Leucothoe 'Rainbow' turns a vibrant scarlet in winter

Leucothoe 'Rainbow' is a colorful shrub at any time of year. The arching evergreen foliage is splashed haphazardly with shades of yellow, red and green but in winter deep scarlet  is dominant. This is a show stopper for the shade garden, looking equally impressive tumbling over the side of a container. This shrub will form a mound 3-5' tall and wide but can be trimmed as needed. Hardy in zones 5-9

'Little Heath' andromeda adds pink tints to its pretty variegated foliage as the temperatures drop

Lily of the valley shrub, also known as andromeda (Pieris japonica) is a popular evergreen shrub for a woodland garden. The variegated forms are especially attractive and all are known for their fragrant spring flowers and new growth which is typically a bright salmon pink. One of my favorites is the dwarf  'Little Heath' which I use in both landscape and container garden design. These eventually reach 3' x 3'. In colder weather it blushes like a little schoolgirl! Hardy in zones 5-9

Warm russet shades on this 'Hino Crimson' azalea add color to the winter garden

Evergreen Azaleas. Oh what plant snobs we can be! Certainly the cultivar 'Hino Crimson' is a landscapers standby, seen in almost every commercial and residential planting and bringing a blast of shocking hot pink to spring gardens everywhere. Yet that doesn't mean it is boring – far from it! At this time of year the foliage has turned from deep green to rich rust tones. This foliage makes a colorful addition to flower arrangements and holiday wreaths. 'Hino Crimson' grows slowly to 3' x 3' and is hardy in zones 6-9

The normally pristine white variegation of weigela 'Magical Fantasy' is edged with a soft pink glow

Weigela 'Magical Fantasy' is in seasonal denial! All the other cultivars have long since dropped their leaves, standing naked amid a carpet of soggy foliage. Yet 'Magical Fantasy' is not only still partially clothed, it has taken on this glorious rosy hue, transforming the pure white variegation into something altogether – well magical! A recent introduction from Monrovia, this selection is said to grow to 3-4' tall and wide and be hardy in zones 4-8. Click here to see how it looked in summer – breathtaking.

Several perennials and conifers in my garden have also changed color as the days have got shorter and the temperatures colder. A stroll for another day perhaps.



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  1. Christina Salwitz on December 5, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    A brilliant post topic. Kicking myself for not thinking of it. Great work!

    • Karen Chapman on December 5, 2012 at 6:59 pm

      Too funny Christina! I'm happy to share 🙂

  2. Carolyn @ Carolyn's Shade Gardens on December 6, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    Great post. I always especially notice 'Wolf's Eye' kousa dogwood and 'Briggadoon' St. john's wort.

    • Karen Chapman on December 10, 2012 at 10:35 pm

      That's a beautiful dogwood Carolyn – such pretty variegation.

  3. Foxglove Lane on December 8, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    Such beautiful photography….and I love that term winter blush:~)

    • Karen Chapman on December 10, 2012 at 10:35 pm

      A huge compliment from such an outstanding photographer – thank you!

  4. debsgarden on December 12, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    All are gorgeous! The Andromeda and Leucothoe would make great additions to my own garden. In fact, I already have several andromedas, but none with the fall coloration of yours. And I did plant three Leucothoe Rainbow, which then died over the summer! Should I try again? It's a native and I would have expected better!

    • Karen Chapman on December 12, 2012 at 6:02 pm

      Deb, I think this Pieris has the best winter color I've seen – SO pretty.
      I would definitely try the Leucothoe again. It should be fine in your woodland garden. I have it in some pretty inhospitable areas and although there is often a little winter damage it soon picks up again. Great for containers too.

  5. Jennifer on December 12, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    How I wish these were hardy here Karen- your suggestions are all wonderful.

    • Karen Chapman on December 14, 2012 at 5:01 pm

      Thanks Jennifer!