When designing a perennial garden, planning for winter color is essential. Fortunately there is a reasonably wide selection of plants to brighten up a snowy landscape. Most of those will also provide food for the birds.
Here are a few favorites:
“Autumn Joy” Sedum (shown in the picture) – a beautiful succulent with a rounded growth habit that starts early in spring, blooms at the end of summer and keeps its brown seed heads in great shape through the winter.
Japanese Barberry – a healthy thorny bush that keeps its leaves through the winter. I can’t call it evergreen because the leaves are greenish brown through spring and summer, they turn bright red in the fall and fade slowly to a deep purple through the winter. It makes berries, birds love them, deer do not.
Decorative grasses – anything with seeds and plumes, like fountain grass and maiden hair will keep beautifully through winter and provide interesting contrast against the snow. (see photo)
Holly – not only are they evergreen, but they produce an abundance of bright red berries that are beautiful to look at and great food for the birds.
Tea Crabapples – they grow low and wide like the plants in Japanese paintings, are covered with fragrant rose-white flowers in spring, have good foliage through summer and produce an abundance of red crab apples in the fall that keep well through the winter. The birds love them.
Rugosa Roses – bloom abundantly in the spring, with some repeat through the summer and produce bright red and orange hips that last through winter. In the fall the foliage of some of these roses turns vibrant orange-brown.
Evergreen trees and bushes – anything from pine to the gorgeous southern magnolia, which is evergreen (see picture below), to ground covers like ivy, candytuft and vinca.
Cranesbill – somewhat unassuming ground cover with pretty flowers, turns a kaleidoscope of reds, yellows, oranges and violets in the fall and keeps its foliage through part of winter
Dogwood and Keria Japonica – their barren stems turn vibrant red and chartreuse green respectively in winter, great contrast against the snow.
Paper Birch – the unmistakable peeling bark reveals a bright white tree trunk, they are tall and imposing, very striking in the landscape, especially in winter.