Native Plants That Have Winter Interest

Bouteloua gracilis

The eye-lash-like seed heads of Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama) gracefully hold their form in the snow.

With the recent snow, I’ve been admiring my suburban prairie anew. The white fluffy stuff provides a new background from which to appreciate nature. The tan grass stems and seed heads come to the foreground instead of just forming a monotone background. The large rabbitbrush seed heads hold little puffs of snow. It looks Dr. Seuss-ish! The subtle red colors of various stems are more pronounced against the snow and the sage looks almost blue.

Ericameria nauseosa

Ericameria nauseosa (rabbit brush) loaded with “snowballs.”

Artemisia frigida (Fringed Sage)

The grey of Artemisia frigida (fringed sage) turns more blue against the snow.

Every fall I’m tempted to mow and clean up the beds. I think this urge to clean things up is some sort of mothering instinct that migrates from the house to the yard. But removing all the plant material really does not serve nature. I find that if I leave everything just as nature leaves it, I have much more to look at during the winter. Plus, the birds and other wildlife feed on the seeds and find shelter among the stems and fallen leaves.

Enjoy the photos below and keep in mind that any of these plants can be a specimen in a more formal garden bed where they will maintain their shape through the winter, while providing necessary ecological functions.

Happy New Year!

Solidago canadensis (Goldenrod)

Solidago canadensis’ (goldenrod) reddish stems provide stable vertical interest even with mounds of snow on the seed heads.

Liatris punctata (Dotted Gayfeather)

Liatris punctata (dotted gayfeather) provides a striking form with its linear leaves.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized, Winter and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *