The recent cold spell is a mixed blessing for gardeners. For the plants needing cold dormancy, it is wonderful, and for those tender things, it is not welcomed. Frost protection is key for those species and keeping all plants well watered is the first step. Then check your plants and move tender things under cover. If there is apparent cold damage, do not prune that off until spring when you see new growth below the damaged parts. Those dead stems act as a frost protection and help insulate the heart of the plant.
There are many showy plants at this time of year. Besides those with attractive fruits/berries, you can find colorful bark, stems as well as foliage and flowers. The shrub dogwood and willow species are very easy care and now begin to glow in the garden with their colorful stems in reds, yellows, oranges, and purples. The stems are very pliant, so you can weave them to make wreathes, etc. for the holidays and also for the vase. Don’t forget about the stripebark/snakebark maples, and the paperbark maples. Acer davidii, A. palmatum cvs., A. hersii, grosseri, A. conspicuum, A. capillipes, A. tegmentosum, A. rufinerve, etc. As well, the paperbark maples such as A. griseum, A. ‘Cinnamon Flake’ and the stiff curled A. triflorum are also distinctive. A. campestre has corky bark and very cutable(hedge maple). An often unthought of plant are the bamboos with very showy and colorful stems in some cases. If you choose these, take care to plant the clumping noninvasive types unless you have a large area to cover and then can utilize the spreading species. Containers and root barriers afford an easy means of containment. Here you will find colors in yellows, many greens, powdery blues, red and maroon, black and deep purple. Additionally there is stem interest in the patterns of colors, variable striping, regular striping and banding, unusual nodes(Quionzhuea tumidissinoda) and very graceful architecture of the mature plant (many species weep and give most delicate effects of detail in the landscape. Shade patterns are also a distinctive feature of these grass cousins. Additionally, some cvs. have blotches on the stems.
seasonal colors include the many winter annuals and cyclamen. These are colorful pot subjects as well as garden choices. Hellebores are just beginning to bud and their blooms will be with us all winter into spring. Much hybridizing has been done with this group recently and has yielded broader color ranges, better growth habits, and double flowers. Among the choice seasonal plants are the Thanksgiving and Christmas cactus. Here also, the hybridizing effort has yuelded more colors and better choices. If you take care of these, they can live a very long time and provide literally hundreds of blossoms all during the holiday season and occasional blooms at other times of year. They originate from tropical regions and grow in rainforests atop jungle tree’s branches like many orchids. They are not frost hardy, but make wonderful house plants, or patio plants(Indoors, outdoor plants)
Rich porous soil and good drainage are basic cultural needs as well as regular watering.