Ask Elaine: The Landscape in Winter

Dear Elaine,

Now that the trees have lost their leaves, the landscape takes on a look with different points of interest. How can I duplicate some the beautiful silhouettes that I see at Laurelwood? Thank you and Happy New Year!


Dear Jan,
Yes, a good landscape is not just about the leaves of deciduous trees. Let’s face it, deciduous trees are bare naked six months of the year so there must be some other plant attributes that keep our attention and interest.

Bark can be beautiful, with color and texture. White bark (white, canoe and paper birches along the banks of Laurel Pond), and red twigged dogwood shrubs (Native Plant Garden) add striking color. Bark that peels includes crape myrtle, river birch and paperbark maple (all along Fairway). Flaky and patchy bark can be seen in Kousa dogwood, Stewartia (Ridge Road), sycamore and fringe tree (Native Plant Garden). An evergreen hedge, fence or wall is a great backdrop for showing off colorful and exfoliating bark.

Striking winter outlines can be exhibited in a few ways: weeping, horizontal or contorted branching. A weeping Higan cherry is just off Cedar Hill. There are weeping forms of pine, spruce and hemlock and we have them at Laurelwood (2nd Bridge). Native dogwoods have tiered horizontal branches, as do redbuds (near the 1st Bridge), white and pin oaks and rockspray cotoneaster (South Rock Garden). Contorted branching is an attribute of Harry Lauder’s walking stick and corkscrew willow. You only need one of each of these unusual and dramatic plants in the landscape.

Berries become more obvious in the landscape when the leaves are off the plants. The fruit on Kousa dogwood, crabapple (near Laurel Pond), hawthorn (across from the Gazebo) and winterberry holly (Brook Road) are brilliant additions to winter landscape characteristics. Other examples of berried plants include English and American holly, snowberry (on Fairway), beautyberry (Native Plant Garden), bayberry, barberry, firethorn, cotoneaster and a few viburnum species.

Enjoy walks through Laurelwood Arboretum any time of the year. It has four seasons of interest. Happy New Year to you and all our visitors, members and donors!

Elaine Fogerty, Executive Director

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