Visualize by yourself obtaining cocoa by the fireplace pit or less than a heated arbor, watching a hummingbird nuzzle a mahonia, while wrapped in a tapestry of evergreen colour, peeling bark and intoxicatingly scented flowers.  

Of all the seasons, winter season is the one particular most very likely to be benched as we plan our gardens. Nonetheless it can be 1 of the most attractive — and important — seasons to look at when building year-spherical outside spaces. A garden with potent winter “bones” is alive with colour, texture and scent, presenting composition, creature comforts and elegance that tempts you exterior. And it can feed wildlife, setting up a more powerful ecosystem for your spring back garden. If you plant some spinach or purple-sprouted broccoli, it can feed you as well.

With a little organizing now, you can create a yard you just cannot wait to get pleasure from — even in February. 

“Winter is my starting off level for almost everything. That is 1 of my guiding principles for the total structure,” suggests Renton-primarily based backyard designer Christina Salwitz, aka the Particular Backyard Coach, who co-authored the books “Fine Foliage” and “Gardening with Foliage To start with.” 


“Being in this article in the Northwest where by we have a a bit grayer climate, I want my customers to push up in mid-January and truly delight in what they see, and not be depressed simply because they really do not have the hydrangeas blooming,” she suggests. “You can certainly have it all with texture and blooms” through the year.

“The wet year is half of our calendar year,” agrees landscape designer Lisa Port, of Seattle-based mostly Banyon Tree Design. “Getting people outdoors in the ‘off months,’ the shoulder seasons, is a major part of my work. Folks are wanting to make use of these areas calendar year-round, not just summer time.”

Port, an architect-turned-landscape designer, has taught at Edmonds Community Higher education and served create a Sustainable Landscape Experienced Certification method in Washington.

Seattle landscape designer Lisa Port’s goal is to get locals outside during the shoulder seasons. (Courtesy of Lisa Port)


Foundational items

Port focuses very first on the hardscaping — the inanimate resources — to replicate the way her clients use their area. The main ingredient? Consolation, spelled as warmth, shelter from rain and a cushy position to land. 

This could be as simple as Adirondack chairs with fluffy cushions and blankets around a fire pit, ideally held outdoors for completely ready use. Port likes a significant chair to pump up the cozy — “not just some thing skinny you’d sit on in summertime.” 

The ultimate weather-proofing addition, Port states, would be a coated structure, like a pergola or awning. 

“A great deal of people today are staying residence additional these days, so possessing a coated area adjacent or shut to your home is really fantastic,” she claims. She notes that, even though the plastic sports canopies individuals bought early in the pandemic for social distancing ended up a excellent momentary correct, they are not ready for significant winds and attainable snow. 

Additional long term constructions permit you to run energy for lights and heat, as perfectly as ceiling enthusiasts in the summer months. Port favors Infratech overhead heaters, which are carried at Sutter Residence & Fireside in Ballard. Roofing can be, in roughly escalating price, opaque corrugated fiberglass, wooden shingles or crystal clear acrylic, which lets in treasured mild.  

“For outside hearth sources, they can be fireplace pits, a fuel fireplace or a wooden-burning stove with a chimney if you want to go all in,” Post says.  

She stresses that every jurisdiction has its very own building rules about fireplace resources and endorses doing work with a specialist landscape designer or architect right before using the services of a contractor, because “changing issues on paper is cheaper” than rebuilding.

Lisa Port’s company, Banyon Tree Design, put together this Seattle backyard, which includes a partially covered outdoor kitchen and several places to sit comfortably. (Courtesy of Lisa Port)


Enjoyable additions 

Sensation far more like a soak than s’mores? Numerous folks want to bring the spa into their garden. Port states she’s set up more scorching tubs this 12 months than at any time in her 20-year vocation. “When they are warm, even if it is sprinkling out, you’re high-quality,” she claims. 

If you want to strengthen your workout restoration schedule, incorporate a plunge pool or out of doors shower for warm-cold shock price, or a sauna, which can be tucked below a deck. A garden or landscape designer can assistance you integrate these into your landscape.

Of training course, outdoor lighting is vital in the course of our winters, Port claims. White lights can brighten the shorter times from November to March. Port’s pro suggestion: Skip photo voltaic lights — they really don’t function properly below. 

Finally, recall to make a great path, Port suggests. You do not want to severe your hygge vibe with cold, wet ft from functioning throughout grass. Pavers, gravel and decking are all fantastic possibilities for a dry walkway.

A colorful winter pot designed by Christina Salwitz includes heuchera, hellebore, ilex and carex. (Courtesy of Christina Salwitz)


Vegetation with affect

Now for the dessert — picking the plants! You might feel wintertime is all about evergreen shrubs and conifers, but Salwitz, who is recognized for her extravagant use of coloration and bold texture, claims they need to only make up about one-3rd of the plantings, with the remaining two-thirds remaining deciduous and perennial vegetation.  

“It’s all about layers, as a lot as just about anything,” she claims.

Crops that earn their place on Salwitz’s list morph by the seasons, weaving an evolving display of bouquets, foliage, bark or fruit. Talking on the mobile phone, she dreamed up a winter back garden combo on the location.

Start with a red-twig dogwood (these as Cornus alba ‘Ivory Halo’), an straightforward, reduced-routine maintenance, shrub with variegated summer foliage that, if cut back again difficult in spring, reveals tall, straight, purple stems in winter that are fantastic on their very own, in containers or in arrangements. 

Upcoming, add narrow Raywood’s weeping Arizona cypress (Cupressus arizonica ‘Raywood’s Weeping’), which has scented blue foliage and adorably excellent cones, “like golf balls,” Salwitz says. 

Incorporate a hardy pennisetum grass (this sort of as Pennisetum a. ‘Hameln’), which turns a golden tan in tumble, and, lastly, a silvery lavender plant, these types of as ‘Phenomenal’ (Lavandula intermedia ‘Phenomenal’). Voila — a occasion of textures and hues. 

“This blend would prosper in complete sunshine as a result of partial shade, with sun in the latter 50 % of the day, and is pretty darn drought-tolerant,” Salwitz suggests. 

Some of her preferred winter season-fascination crops for shady places are the early-blooming hellebores, named “Christmas roses,” for their refreshing blooms starting off in November, as nicely as evergreen ferns, which come virtually every form you can envision. 

Winter-backyard garden sources

Plant information and inspiration:

• “Gardening with Foliage To start with: 127 Stunning Mixtures That Pair the Beauty of Leaves with Bouquets, Bark, Berries, and More,” by Karen Chapman and Christina Salwitz 

• Terrific Plant Picks, a curated databases of crops that thrive in the Pacific Northwest: greatplantpicks.org

• egardenGO, plant combination recipes for the Pacific Northwest from Portland designer Darcy Daniels: egardengo.com

Soest Herbaceous Exhibit Gardens at the UW Center for Urban Horticulture

Joseph A. Witt Wintertime Yard at the UW Arboretum

We typically affiliate the chilly season with inactivity and hibernation of the backyard garden and forests, but a lot of creatures are seeking for meals in wintertime. By welcoming pollinators, birds and wildlife to your wintertime yard, you are going to enable them when including animation and speculate to your room. 

You are going to see Anna’s hummingbirds zooming in and out of your mahonias and grevilleas, whilst slumber-groggy bees wake to nosh on your hellebores on sunny days. Spring bulbs like daffodils and crocus are irresistible to pollinators and untroubled by squirrels. 

Alongside with picking out plants like individuals, you can leave seed heads intact on grasses and coneflowers, thrilling the goldfinches and juncos. Skip fall clean up-up this calendar year and depart some branches, unpruned shrubs and even low damaged tree limbs for foraging, nesting and shelter. 

Papery hydrangea blossoms, rosehips, mottled bark and tree rings every single have their possess intriguing natural beauty that benefits looking at. Just take photographs, try sketching them or create an off-season arrangement for your desk. 

And mainly because scent is one of our strongest memory triggers, fragrance brings an invisible but unforgettable dimension to the backyard. Evergreen shrubs these types of as wintertime daphne and sweet box (Sarcococca spp.) pair glossy foliage and swoon-worthy scents that gain them a spot by your walkway — or the fireplace pit. 

Move the cocoa, remember to.

A gas fire pit, like this model from Sutter Home & Hearth, adds warmth and light as the days get shorter. (Courtesy of Sutter Home & Hearth)


Locals’ wintertime backyard favorites

We questioned some individuals in the Seattle Organic and natural Backyard Gardeners Facebook group: What’s your beloved section of winter gardening?

“Looking forward to my new hearth pit to enable increase out of doors time via the tumble and ideally wintertime. I search forward to the wonderful camellias and, of system, the hellebores.” — Sarah Andersen Bruemmer

“I have fragrance rising yr-spherical, and that lifts my spirits in the dreary moments. Also, leaving seedheads and leaves offers habitat and provides birds.”
Kathleen Warren

“I like executing some year extension with row addresses, and I’ve geared up my garden this year for fall harvests these kinds of as carrots, rutabaga, turnips and brassicas such as purple sprouting broccoli perfectly into the winter season.” — Cherry Liu

“Tucking in the plants for a wintertime snooze and viewing grow winter season flowers like primrose and pansy and cyclamen arrive to lifestyle.”
Lana Lane

“Watching the designs that the snow makes on the lifeless vegetation we leave in position on function to benefit insect babies and other about-wintering creatures.” 
Susan Baldry Doyle

“I planted a hedgerow of my preferred shrub along my patio — sarcococca. It flowers in the wintertime when not significantly else is flowering and emits a lovely vanilla fragrance. I appreciate walking by means of it and respiratory in the scent in the wintertime.” — Jen Yu