Winter is right around the corner, but that doesn't mean your garden can't still look beautiful. Many plants provide visual excitement in the colder months with colorful berries, patterned trunks, interesting textures and fabulous foliage.
That's why I asked five knowledgeable garden writers, coaches and designers from Canada and the United States to name some of their favorite winter plants. In the next few posts, you'll hear what they had to say.
First, I head to New England to hear about container plants that transition well into winter. My source is Kerry Michaels, who writes all about container gardening for About.com and on Twitter as @containergarden.
"There are so many great plants that will bring you through fall and well into winter in grand style," explains Kerry, who lives on the Maine coast (USDA Hardiness Zone 5).
"I'm ridiculously enamored of heucheras, also known as coral bells," she admits. "They come in a huge assortment of colors, from almost black to the rocking 'key lime' green one pictured above. Most are hardy down to a whopping minus 25 degrees F, and continue to look good far into winter."
"My other favorite fall to winter plants are ornamental grasses," says Kerry. "I particularly like purple fountain grass 'Rubrum' and Japanese forest grass, Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola,' which is shown in the above picture."
"I also love sage (Salvia officinalis 'Aureaus')," she adds. "It cruises beautifully into winter and then comes in handy when you want to make stuffing for holiday turkeys. This photo shows sage combined with croton and purple fountain grass." Beware: when temperatures start to really fall, you'll want to remove the croton.
Hope these container gardening suggestions get your creative juices flowing. Remember container gardening can be a four-season hobby, even in the cold climates.
Learn More: Kerry Michaels, About.Com Container Gardening or on Twitter @ContainerGarden
More to Come! Next, we travel to Northern Idaho, where the winters are frigid but there are still plenty of ways to add interest to the garden. Look for part 2, coming soon...