Good Gardening: Colorful Stems

Feb 2, 2015

Credit John Fischer

Winter in Oregon is gray, wet, grey, cloudy, and often gray.  While the evergreens that symbolize the state provide some dark color to the landscape, a few plants seem to defy the "I'll just blend in here if you don't mind" look.
  Colorful stemmed dogwoods and willows almost glow in shades of yellow, orange, red, and purple from the day the leaves fall off in fall until they are muted again by leaves in the spring.

Credit John Fischer

There are handful of winter blooming shrubs- camellias around town are shining like pink beacons of the spring soon to come.  And the classic holly berries glow with a rich red color come rain, sleet, snow, and gray.
  But the palate of colorful stems puts blooms and berries to shame, and it does it all winter long.
  The best way to find plants you like is to get outside with a walk or bike ride.  As I pedal past the banana yellow leafless willows near the new belt-line bike bridge, they seem to grow brighter as the winter gets darker.
  Red Twig Dogwoods were given the mono-color name because Red Orange Yellow Magenta Pink, Purple-Black  Twig Dogwoods is too much of a mouthful for most nursery workers.
  And as if the colors weren't enough, many of the willows and dogwoods have yellow stems near the ground that transition to orange or red near the tips.
  An orange plant viewed from the north will often be brilliant yellow when viewed from the south.
  For the wet spots in your yard, willows will do better.  The dogwoods like drier sites, and provide what some people find more interesting foliage and flowers in spring and summer.
  Planting time is coming soon- February and March are perfect- And while you may be tempted to pick plants that stand out on a sunny day walk, I would suggest you look for your the plants to put outside your favorite winter sitting window spot on a gray day.  That's what the background will look like for most of the winter months..