I love this time of the year in the garden. No panic about weeds, no planning, little planting and lots of time to enjoy the transition of the seasons. But the gardener’s jobs are never done and winter is a perfect to time to address some of the jobs we may have forgotten about earlier in the season.
Case in point — the front entrance.
A front door is an important place. It is the transition from outside into the home. And it is a busy place! You welcome your friends, say hello to neighbours, pass out Halloween candy, pick up your paper, the list goes on and on. Winter planters cleverly placed around your front entrance help to frame the view of your garden from the street.
Before you start jamming plants into pots, take a good look at your entrance space. Look at the colours of your house and the scale between the house and door. If you live in a two-storey house or tall townhome, two low, flat pots will be out of scale with the size of your home and look dinky. Also, unless you have a formal look or a classic estate, you don’t need two big pots flanking your entrance like sentries. Groupings of three and different sizes look great. Try to work with vignettes and different sizes of pots and heights.
Start with an evergreen accent. Good choices include Skimmia, Hicks yew, Sarcacocca, Ilex or boxwood. You can site it in the centre of a container, or at the back, or offset to the side. Then work around those sturdy green accents with colour, flower and leaf texture.
Look for any kind of evergreen perennial that stays above the soil line over the winter. There are some amazing Hellebores that bloom now and early in the spring. Their handsome leaves and flowers are a bonus at this time of the year when not much else is blooming. Nandina is another personal favourite.
For colour and beautiful leaf structure, no planter is complete without a Heuchera or coral bells. Colours range from dark purple to silvery purple to chartreuse green.
An excellent textural element to round out your planting is an evergreen form of ornamental grass. Carex “Evergold” is a beautiful foil for other plants and hangs gracefully over the edge of your containers.
Winter planters extend your gardening season and provide a wealth of interest throughout the season.
Our front door is the main entrance to our home, but unfortunately it is the last place I landscape. For most of the season I had a large pot, with a sad vertical evergreen growing all alone. Every once in a while I might tuck a few leftover bits of other plants around the edges, but after tending to the rest of the world’s gardens, my own gets a bit neglected.