Sycamore trees are among the most distinctive trees in the American landscape. Whether you know the name or not, you have no doubt noticed beautifully mottled gray and tan and white bark on a giant of a tree in a park or a forest or driving along the highway. For me, it was one of the first trees I learned to identify growing up as a budding plant nerd.
Ferns don’t typically make me think of Christmas, but this semi-evergreen fern keeps going strong into December. Its foliage remains green into mid to late winter. It is not the most delicate and dainty fern, but its tough, large leaflets are a good addition to shade gardens when evergreen massing is called for.
Every year in late November, we head to Welch Wholesale Florist on the near west side of Indianapolis to pick up several cases of greens and garlands for winter decorations. Their building is a happy space full of bins and boxes of gorgeous flowers. The most fantastic plant smells fill the air. Yesterday when we picked up a shipment we spent some time talking with Annie and Nora, the current owners and the daughters of the owner and founder, about decorating with fresh greenery and about the challenges, rewards, and surprises of working in their industry.
There are many kinds of hydrangeas, and we love all of them for the landscape. Yet it seems like the blue and pink mopheads and the dramatic Annabelle hydrangeas seem to take the spotlight when we think of hydrangeas. Possibly the least well-known, but still very widely used, is the panicle hydrangea, known for its excellent winter hardiness, strong branches, and mid-to-late summer cone-shaped flowers.
Winter doesn't have to be something we simply get through on our way to warmer weather. This season has many qualities that deserve to be appreciated in their own right. The sight of a bright red cardinal perching on a branch is far more stunning in the subdued browns of winter than it could ever be in the green of summertime. A light coat of frost lends an air of mystery to a cloudy morning and a shimmer of magic to a sunny afternoon.
Winter is upon us, and the world outside our windows has become a lot more grey and dreary. When we approach a new design, it is not at all unusual for the client to request that we include plants that will look interesting all year round. For most, their mind will automatically turn to evergreens, but there are so many more plants that can light up the winter landscape in other ways.
After the bright lights and colors of the holiday season it can be nice to settle down with a little subtle color left in the landscape after the lights come down. Close cousins coralberry and snowberry are great picks for low-key, hazy winter interest. It's definitely not a plant for a formal garden, but if you have more of a natural style or if you're looking to add a little something special to a wooded edge, this may be just the thing you need.