Sure, growing and maintaining a beautiful garden during the spring, summer and autumn is a piece of cake – you have the warm temperatures and sunny skies on your side. Once the winter season rolls around, it can feel impossible or useless to keep up with all your hard gardening work – it doesn’t have to be that way. There are actually quite a few beautiful trees (and other plants – check out upcoming blogs) that thrive during the winter’s harsh weather.
Japanese Magnolia (Magnolia liliiflora), also known as Mulan magnolia, Purple magnolia, Red magnolia, Lily magnolia, Tulip magnolia, Jane magnolia and Woody-orchid, is a deciduous shrub (sheds its leaves annually) that’s of Japanese origins, even though it is not native to Japan. The Japanese magnolia only grows to be around 13 feet tall and is a prominent bloomer during the very early spring months and sporadically through the summer. Its incredible, eye-catching, goblet-shaped, aromatic pink and purple blossoms are about 3 inches across and grow profusely before its large, 8 inch long and 4 inch wide, leaves bud. The Japanese magnolia prefer full sun and has been known to survive winter temperatures as low as -4°F.
Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida) is a deciduous beauty which thrives in the early spring months and can grow up to 30 feet tall and 35 feet wide at maturity. However, the typical size is more like 15 feet tall and 15-20 feet wide across. This genus of about 30-60 species of woody plants is classified in the Cornaceae family. When many other trees are hibernating for winter, the flowering Dogwood shows off its canopy of snow white or pink flowers, often accompanied by a host of small, red fruits with new leaves unfolding, showy for 2-3 weeks. This early spring bloomer is a great option as a specimen tree or used in a background. Flowering Dogwoods prefer well-drained but moist soil and shade in the south and full sun in the north. Although any stress could make dogwoods susceptible to disease, establishes trees are tolerant of normal dry periods but will need supplemental watering during extreme droughts. As if you’re not completely sold on this beautiful tree, let’s not forget that its lightly colored green 3-6 inch long leave will turn red and purple in autumn months.
Cherry Tree (Prunus campanulata) also knows as Taiwan cherry, Formosan cherry or bellflowered cherry, is a small, deciduous tree with a maximum height and width of 25 feet. This cultivar not only thrives in the winter, but demands the cool temperatures, as a sufficient chill period is necessary for the tree to develop healthy bud-bursts, flowering and small 1/8 inch cherries which ripen to black. In early spring, an opulence of showy, inch-sized, bell-shaped, nearly neon pink flowers, in clusters of 2-6, appear before the leaves. Leaves turning bronze in autumn. Considered by many to be the most beautiful of the flowering cherries, the Taiwan cherry is an outstanding tree for a Japanese style garden or simply as a specimen or anywhere early spring color is desired. The Taiwan cherry does best in full sun, will tolerate shade, requires regular watering and will tolerate heat better than other flowering cherry trees. Unfortunately, Taiwan cherry seldom lives more than 10-15 years.
Snowdrift Crabapple (Malus x ‘Snowdrift’), classified in the Rosaceae family, is a vibrant fruit tree that loves to show off its red-orange fruit and gorgeous white flowers during the first winter months, lasting throughout early spring. The snowdrift crabapple has luscious and glossy dark green leaves that remain full and bright while other plants dwindle away and die when the cold temperatures set in. The snowdrift crabapple are best grown in a sunny location with good air circulation and have no particular soil preferences, other than well-drained soil. It is well adapted to compacted urban soil, tolerates drought and poor drainage well – is also somewhat tolerate of salt spray. It is a very adaptable tree for urban landscapes. Do not over fertilize since this could increase the incidence of disease.