Red or Gold in the Winter Garden? You Decide!

In the deep of winter when the garden is taking a rest, bright pops of color draw us out into the yard (or give us something exciting to look at out the window!). Two of the most impactful colors against the snow, fog, rain, or whatever you’re dealt by winter, are brilliant red and gleaming gold. We asked two Monrovia craftsmen to share which of these colors they love the most in the winter garden. Here’s what they told us and a selection of plants they recommend for your zone.

Justin's Picks for Red-Hued Plants to Add Zip to the Winter Garden

Why red?
I’m enamored with red in my winter garden thanks to a cardinal. I clearly remember being out one January day—probably shoveling snow or something—when there was a sudden streak of red moving across my yard. The bird stopped atop a branch and watched me for a while as I worked. The combination of its showy plumage against the winter backdrop and the cheery sound of its song instantly made spring seem all that much closer. Ever since, I’ve always included red fruits, foliage, and bark in my winter garden to help ward off cabin fever and connect with a fond memory.

Zone: 3 - 5

Cranberry Cotoneaster
Zone: 4 – 7

Pink spring flowers are followed by beautiful red berries on a small, spreading shrub that brightens the winter landscape. Partial to full sun. Up to 3′ tall, 6′ wide.

Ivory Halo® Dogwood
Zone: 3 – 7

Multi-season beauty with brilliant red winter stems, showy, light green leaves, and a super-useful compact size. Up to 6′ tall and wide. Partial to full sun.

Cascade™ Blush Lenten Rose
Zone: 4 – 9

Stunning large deep purple-pink blooms grace the garden from late winter through early spring. You love it, deer do not! Up to 2′ tall and wide. Full to partial shade.

Zone: 6 - 8

Scallywag™ Holly
Zone: 5 – 9

Looks great year round, but especially in winter when the shiny dark-green foliage takes on striking purple-burgundy hue. Full sun. Up to 4′ tall and wide.

Coral Bark Japanese Maple
Zone: 5 – 8

What’s not to love! Smaller size, golden fall foliage and red-coral bark on its young branches (color intensifies in the winter). Filtered to full sun. Up to 25′ tall, 20′ wide.

Kramer’s Supreme Camellia
Zone: 8 – 10

Mid-season magnificent peony-like, rosy-red flowers with a delightful fragrance (you read that right–scented!). Full shade to filtered sun. Up to 8′ tall and wide.

Zone: 9 - 11

Jester Conebush
Zone: 8 – 10

Great frost and drought tolerant accent for minimal-care landscapes. Pink variegation develops a brilliant red flush as weather cools. Full sun. Up to 5′ tall and wide.

Ever Red® Fringe Flower
Zone: 7 – 9

Blooms year-round, with heaviest bloom late winter to spring (when you crave color!). Adds contrast to beds and borders. Partial to full sun. Up to 6′ tall and wide.

Festival™ Burgundy Cordyline
Zone: 8 – 11

How dramatic and eye-catching is the burgundy grass-like effect with long arching leaves!  Great year-round color. Partial to full sun. Up to 3′ tall and wide.

Megan's Picks for Golden-Hued Plants to Warm-Up the Winter Garden

Why gold?
Winters in the Pacific Northwest are dreary. It’s months of short days and cloudy skies and rarely do I look out into the landscape and see something bright. Instead of hugging a light therapy lamp, I try to have year-round interest in my garden. In winter I rely on bright splashes of gold. Foliage or flowers, golden hues always stand out, no matter how drab the background may be. Outside of my window I see a beacon of hope: The rain will end, the sun will come back…someday.

Zone: 3 - 5

Golden Duchess® Eastern Hemlock
Zone: 4 – 7

Low, mounding form and improved sun tolerance over other gold varieties. Perfect mass planted or in containers. Full shade to partial sun. Up to 4′ tall, 5′ wide.

Winter Dreams™ Double Fantasy Christmas Rose
Zone: 3 – 9

Magical late winter semi-double,  blooms with a circle of gold stamens. Full shade to partial sun. Up to 12′ tall, 16″ wide.

Yellow Twig Dogwood
Zone: 2 – 8

We love the flowers, foliage and fruits, but its the yellow bare new stems in winter that steal the show. Partial to full sun. Up to 8′ tall, 9′ wide.

Zone: 6 - 8

Charity Mahonia
Zone 7 – 9

So carefree you barely notice it most of the year. Then comes winter when great sprays of yellow flowers appear. Full shade to partial sun. Up to 10′ tall and wide.

Swane’s Golden Italian Cypress
Zone: 7 – 9

Narrow, columnar form with magnificent, bright, golden yellow new growth that retains good color throughout the season. Full sun. Up to 20′ tall, 3′ wide.

Arnold Promise Witch Hazel
Zone: 5 – 9

Nothing signals the end of winter and the promise of spring like the blazing fragrant yellow blooms of this North American native. Full sun. Up to 20′ tall and wide.

Zone: 9 - 11

Bright Star Spanish Dagger
Zone: 7 – 10

Believe the name! Strappy green leaves with bright yellow edges add drama to the landscape.Sculptural addition to a large container. Full sun. Up to 2′ tall, 5′ wide.

Box-Leaf Azara
Zone: 7 – 10

Small shiny leaves line the wiry stems but it’s all about late winter’s white-chocolate scented tiny yellow flowers. Filtered to full sun. Up to 25′ tall, 12′ wide.

Belgian Hybrid Yellow Bush Lily
Zone: 9 – 11

A rare bright yellow flowered form with strappy leaves that adds bright color to the winter garden (and as a bonus thrives in dry shade). Full shade. Up to 2′ tall and wide.

Which Would You Choose?

So, after all of that, which color would you choose to add into your winter landscape? We’d love to know and also hear why. Please share your thoughts in the comments below. (Note-it is okay to say both!)

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