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Creating A Year-Round Landscape

By: Sandra Nelson; Images Sandy DeFoe

We passed the entrance to Missouri Wildflower Nursery over the weekend, which of course made me think about beginning phase two of our front yard prairie project. I love deciding what new plants we are going to add and imagining how they will change the look of the landscape. 

Typically,  the  first considerations for adding plants to the landscape are whether their peak season characteristics will mesh well with the rest of the existing design. There is however, another question  to ask before choosing new additions : What do they offer for winter?  

flower heads




The FORM of a plant often becomes its crowning glory, as its form remains throughout all of the seasons. Form helps set the style, creates the mood and carries the message of the garden. Using precisely trimmed,   geometric shapes defines the space as formal, 

formal winter landscape

while irregular, flowing shapes and forms appear much more informal.   

informal winter landscape

While form is discernible in the summer, it stands out in winter. A few well-selected plants with unique forms can become striking focal points of the winter landscape, drawing and holding the eye.

trees in winter

The TEXTURE of a plant is how hard or soft, coarse or fine, smooth or rough, light or heavy it appears to the viewer. Within a landscape, individual textures can draw the eye...

peeled bark

or they can blend together to form a complete picture.

red barked forest

A space with lots of bold textures tends to be dramatic  and sometimes even intimidating.

tree bark

On the other hand, a massing of fine textures can appear softer and more welcoming.

soft texture


The “off-season” PERKS of a plant are often unexpected bonuses for gardeners. Berries, seed pods, dried blossoms not only add interest for humans, but can give wildlife a reason to visit your yard. 

seed pods


If the idea of adding plants that give you "more bang for your buck" intrigues you, join us next week as we look at some specific suggestions for your landscape. Hope to see you then!