Well-made landscapes are founded on sound design principles, solid construction techniques and appropriate plant selections. This carries it through the four seasons. But well-loved gardens must also reflect the needs and interests of the gardener. That approach has guided Neil Pike for 30 successful years as a landscape architect and contractor, and was the inspiration for his own garden renovation a few years ago.
Here are Pike's tips for extending the interest of your garden throughout the winter.
• Emphasize garden lines by edging beds and borders in autumn before the ground freezes.
• Plant evergreen hedges (at least 60 centimetres tall to stand above snow) such as yew, boxwood and cedar to define boundaries.
• Select tall, coniferous shrubs (pyramidal cedar, dwarf Alberta spruce, upright junipers) to frame views and anchor corners.
• Include ornamental woody plants with attractive form, bark and fruit to provide winter interest: weeping cherry, star magnolia, birch, red- and yellow-bark dogwoods, PeeGee and climbing hydrangeas, dwarf European cranberry, roses with hips, crabapple.
• Leave some upright perennials standing through the winter: showy stonecrop, coneflower, clematis seed heads and ornamental grasses.
• Add enhancing hardscape elements such as fence finials, arbours, trellises, obelisks, large stepping stones.
• Create a seating arrangement—a bench or table and chairs—made from all-weather materials.
• Install outdoor lighting.
• Use large accent features—landscape boulders, bird baths, fountains, statuary and stone containers filled with winter boughs and branches.