Winter can be a muted time of year both in sky and landscape. I’ve written before about finding winter greens in state parks, but I’ve got green at home too. Normally you might think of shrubs and trees as the evergreens you’d plant, but let's not forget the evergreen stuff on the ground too.
|Mitchella repens with fruit in December|
Nearby are the glossy, flat rosettes of cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) on the left side of the porch. Their wrinkled leaves aren’t terribly attractive and some might even think they’re weeds! They grow up to be beautiful summer perennials and I need to make sure that leaves don’t cover up those winter rosettes or they may rot.
|Lobelia cardinalis rosette and young Christmas fern|
In the main perennial bed in the front, the winter leaves of two types of beardtongue mingle: I have both a white one (Penstemon digitalis) and a purple one (Penstemon smallii). Further mixed among them are the flat leaves of Stokes aster (Stokesia laevis) and the rosettes of swamp sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius). Actually now is a good time to see if they’re too crowded and to pot up extras for sharing.
In the same area, here are some of the other plants with green leaves: red columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), mouse-eared coreopsis (Coreopsis auriculata), lanceleaf self-heal (Prunella vulgaris ssp. lanceolata), Robin’s plantain (Erigeron pulchellus), foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia), galax (Galax urceolata), alumroot (Heuchera americana), and two kinds of ginger: Hexastylis arifolia and Hexastylis shuttleworthii.
|The deer have sampled some of this Carex plantaginea|
Wow, that’s a lot of green and it’s just the front beds! As I walk around the side, I pass several evergreen sedges including the wonderful plantainleaf sedge (Carex plantaginea). Behind it, tiny sprigs of wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) wait patiently for spring. Like columbine and the asters, the growth is not evergreen but newly grown for the winter to give it a jump on spring. Two evergreen ferns are nearby and also throughout the property: Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides) and ebony spleenwort (Asplenium platyneuron).
Ground-hugging pussytoes (Antennaria plantaginifolia) and green ‘n’ gold (Chrysogonum virginianum) are a little worse for the wear but still visible. Protected under a wire basket is a healthy clump of the tiny-leaved woodland stonecrop (Sedum ternatum). The basket protects it from the deer. I walk further and see the basal leaves of orange coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida). A few of these will be potted up as well for a local plant sale. Next I get to the lawn invaders: another type of Erigeron is trying so hard to grow in the lawn but the deer keep eating it; a more successful plant is golden ragwort (Packera aurea) and some of that needs to be shared as well, if you know what I mean. Here and there is the side lawn are a few pieces of lyreleaf sage (Salvia lyrata). Another goldenrod, Solidago sphacelata, is evergreen in several pots; it can be groundcover-like in its habit.
|Packera aurea in the spring, but those leaves are present even now|
So if you’d like a little more green in your garden perennials, put some of these on your spring shopping list. Around here, sales start in late March and continue all through April.