While waiting for spring to arrive, I took a trip to the Joseph A. Witt Winter Garden at Seattle’s Washington Park Arboretum.
Tucked away into a deep green wooded area of the urban arboretum, a “winter feast” for the senses offers breathtaking bloom and bark colors, stunning textures and unexpected fragrances. These are all the more worth respecting as there is little competition to our attention in the grey, cold wintertime.
Credit for the garden’s design belongs to Ian Roberson, a professor in the University of Washington’s School of Landscape Architecture. He imagined that a “woodland area” inside the arboretum, one that truly celebrates the beauty of winter-interest plants and their architecture, color and form. Here are my specimens. You’ll want to locate just the right place in your own landscape to enjoy a single (or more).
Midwinter fire twig dogwood (Cornus stolonifera ‘Midwinter Fire’)
The vibrant stems blaze orange and brighten up an otherwise shadowy edge.
Coast Silktassel (Garrya elliptica)
Elegantly draped tassels show up in the winter, including crystal drops onto a chandelier. Enjoy these long, silvery tassels up close.
Chinese red Shrimp (Betula albo-sinensis var. Septentrionalis)
Admire the peeling, glowing pinkish-white bark against the evergreen background.
Beautiful witch hazels (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Orange Beauty’, right, Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’, left, light yellowish)
Two shades of yellow-gold witch hazels produce a gorgeous visual corridor for a woodland path. Take a deep breath — you’ll adore their odor.
Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Ruby Glow’
When backlit, this witch hazel is a brilliant jewel at the landscape.
Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Westerstede’
A delicate, vaselike form creates a sculptural effect.
Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Winter Beauty’ + Mahonia ‘Arthur Menzies’
Layering colors and textures is a powerful design technique.
Stewartia monadelpha using a carpet of Cyclamen coum
The tall Stewartia has cinnamon-hue bark, which divides against the bed of glowing pink hardy cyclamen.
Purple-leaf contorted filbert (Corylus maxima ‘Atropurpurea Superba’)
If its leaves are absent, so you can definitely enjoy the twisted form of the super ornamental filbert.
More amazing design plants
Chinese Witch Hazel
8 Sunny Yellow Spring Flowers