Ask a Question forum: Short plants with winter interest

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Name: Jai or Jack
WV (Zone 6b)
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Jai_Ganesha
Feb 28, 2018 3:00 PM CST
I am planning a circular flower bed which is about 5 feet across. It will face south and be in Zone 6a. I would like to include both annuals and perennials, but all of them have to be relatively short, 10-12" in at most because I am putting a statue in the middle which is just under 30 in tall, and I want to be able to see it.

I have everything planned out for spring, summer, and fall. In winter, though, I'm looking for suggestions for something that will at least provide visual interest.

An old friend in Ohio had some very dark purple feral Sempervivums which were gorgeous all winter, but she has sold the house.

If anybody has any suggestions, I will really appreciate it. Everything is in the planning stages, so I am open to any idea. I'm also stir crazy, waiting for the weather to break, not coincidentally...
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Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
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porkpal
Feb 28, 2018 3:57 PM CST
There are winter hardy cyclamen.
Porkpal
Name: Jai or Jack
WV (Zone 6b)
Om shanti om.
Container Gardener Region: West Virginia Multi-Region Gardener Garden Photography Amaryllis Zinnias
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Jai_Ganesha
Feb 28, 2018 4:00 PM CST
Don't they go dormant (and lose all visual interest) in winter?

I may be thinking of something else.
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Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
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dyzzypyxxy
Feb 28, 2018 4:08 PM CST
Jai, I grew a lovely variety of (edible, yummy) Japanese mustard greens in Utah (also zone 6ish) called Mizuna. I was always blown away by how hardy it was, because I could often go out and dig the snow off the tops of the plants, and harvest leaves for salads in winter. Beautiful jaggedly cut leaves, in a nice rosette. There is a green and a purple variety plus one with green leaves and purple stems, available from Baker Creek Heirloom seeds. www.rareseeds.com I also grow it here in Florida because it stands up to the heat a lot longer than most salad greens, too. Can't beat it!

Also winter pansies will sometimes bloom all winter, and certainly put up some pretty little faces when you get those warm spells in the midst of January chills. I always used to plant winter pansies in Utah, and as long as they got a little water, they were in bloom along with the snowdrops as soon as the first hint of spring came along.
Elaine

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Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
porkpal
Feb 28, 2018 5:29 PM CST
At least here cyclamen only bloom in winter. Adding to Elaine's suggestion: there are several varieties/colors of kale that might work.
Porkpal
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Feb 28, 2018 5:46 PM CST
Thinking along the same lines as Sempervivums, winter hardy stonecrops are always pretty. We have a winter hardy Euphorbia (Euphorbia myrsinites) around here - it stays short and blooms yellow. Maybe something like Kinnikinnick (a type of manzanita) or Creeping juniper (Juniperus horizontalis) or Dwarf Japanese Garden Juniper (Juniperus procumbens 'Nana')

All these suggestions are evergreen and less than a foot tall.
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Name: Jai or Jack
WV (Zone 6b)
Om shanti om.
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Jai_Ganesha
Feb 28, 2018 6:21 PM CST
Thank you all. These are very helpful ideas and I'm going to Google every single one of them.

It wouldn't surprise me if cyclamen were evergreen in Texas but I have lived in Illinois, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, in Kentucky during the winters and I have never seen them until about March so I think they are deciduous here.
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Name: Rick R.
Minneapolis, MN, USA zone 4
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Leftwood
Feb 28, 2018 8:27 PM CST
Cyclamen purpurascens is evergreen, even here in Minnesota.
Name: Jai or Jack
WV (Zone 6b)
Om shanti om.
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Jai_Ganesha
Feb 28, 2018 9:14 PM CST
Ah. I don't know the species of the ones I'm thinking of but I can see them so clearly in my mind. I'm going to have to find out.
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Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
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crawgarden
Feb 28, 2018 9:34 PM CST
Maybe some Hellebores
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
Name: Rick R.
Minneapolis, MN, USA zone 4
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Hybridizer
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Leftwood
Mar 1, 2018 3:03 PM CST
Cyclamen coum is by far the most common outdoor cyclamen. Unlike C. purpurascens that blooms in the summer and fall, they bloom in the early spring, and might be deciduous, I don't know.
Name: Carole
Lake Macquarie, Australia
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carolem
Mar 2, 2018 4:53 AM CST
........these come to mind; an Ornamental Kale for visual interest. So many colour variations.

If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.

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Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
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sallyg
Mar 2, 2018 7:03 AM CST
Careful with the mustard- I've grown red mustard from Johnnys Select Seeds for a number of winters here. It was great with a south facing wall right behind, but has frozen out every winter here in a more exposed place. I would think WV is as cold.
My hardy Cyclamen has leaves thru winter.
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
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Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
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stone
Mar 2, 2018 8:02 AM CST
Ok.... When I think winter interest, I think seedpods and song birds.
There are a number of rudbeckia that meet the criterion.

And... An unlikely plant that most people wouldn't consider.... The native elephant foot...

Thumb of 2018-03-02/stone/0f4c4f
Here it is covered in snow... Later that same day, it was surrounded by songbirds!

Thumb of 2018-03-02/stone/214b7e
Elephant flower....

At my house, hardy cyclamen is covered with leaves in the winter, and goes dormant in summer. So... Someone who didn't want an empty spot... Might not be happy about that.

How many hours of sunlight does this spot receive?
WV tends to be mostly wet enough, but... You might have one of those rocky outcrops.... So.. More information we should have...

I think you should just let the naturarlized chicory grow.... Love that stuff, and it gets killed by the voles when i try to grow it here....

[Last edited by stone - Mar 2, 2018 8:04 AM (+)]
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Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
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sallyg
Mar 2, 2018 8:13 AM CST
seed heads and berries for birds, great ideas.. if we can think of something short enough.
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)
Name: Jai or Jack
WV (Zone 6b)
Om shanti om.
Container Gardener Region: West Virginia Multi-Region Gardener Garden Photography Amaryllis Zinnias
Gardens in Buckets Annuals Houseplants Plant and/or Seed Trader Birds Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Jai_Ganesha
Mar 2, 2018 8:52 AM CST
Thank you all so much. I am traveling today and tomorrow so I can't respond as quickly, but I am definitely going to look into every single thing that has been suggested.

Honestly, if something would do very well and also provide food for the birds, I might be able to put it on the back side of the statue. So not every single plant has to stay short. Just most of them.
Keep going!
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Mid-Atlantic Composter Region: Maryland Birds
Cat Lover Dog Lover Region: United States of America
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sallyg
Mar 2, 2018 11:21 AM CST
My Sedum Angelina and Blue Spruce are very short and look pretty decent right now, even after this rough winter. They can spread a lot, you can hack them off and replant, give away, etc. Not much to offer birds.
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)

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