The colors of cold

Last week we experienced a few days of sub-freezing temperatures. Around here, that is a little unusual, though I do know that a great many of my readers would love to have their days warm up to near freezing conditions this time of year.

So, I’m sitting near the wood stove, sipping a delicious cup of tea, gazing out at my garden, and I begin to take notice of all the color in the conifer garden. The deciduous trees and shrubs have all lost their leaves, any remaining perennials have browned and dropped into piles on the ground, but the conifers are full of deep greens, various shades of grays and blues, rich golden tones and bright yellow – and this is just the first cold-spell of the season. I know that as the temperatures continue to stay colder, I will begin to see plums and purples and pinks and orange tones begin to develop in many of my conifers.

Some of the Colors of Cold
Brrrr.... Some of the Colors of Cold in the Pacific Northwest.

All this color, in addition to the texture of the conifers, create quite a lot of interest in the winter garden. On the rare sunny day this time of year, when the sun is very low in the sky, the colors seem to become intensified by the bright sunlight and the dark shadows that frame plant after plant as the sun moves across the sky. Frosty mornings also add a crisp nuance to the garden, then as the sun begins to warm the plants and the frost melts, wisps of steam may begin to rise adding to the mystery of the winter landscape.

Winter is a wonderful time of year for the conifer garden.

Now I want to ask you, what is the color of cold in your garden?

Conifer Lover

10 thoughts on “The colors of cold

  1. The most vibrant colors I get are cardinals coming to chow down on some safflower that we feed in our birdfeeder.

    Happy Monday,



  2. I love the coclr of the siberian cypress, (Micrbiota Dessicata,Sorry if I got any of that wrong). It turns a purpleish color that is to me in the winter wonderful. I am still considering turning this one into a bonsai but it hasn’t happened yet. I know how hardy it is and this along with the color would really make it a good canditate.


  3. In Kansas the colors of winter are the varied hues of green, gray, brown, and copper that the seedling Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) turn in the pastures. The colder is gets, the more colors develop.

    Of course, the brightest color of winter here is also the beautiful, bright red cardinal. I have flocks come to my sunflower seed feeders.


    1. Hi Annie – Thanks for your comments! I would imagine that the cardinals look great in a snowy scene too. I’m surprised no one has mentioned, white, yet.


      1. Silly Ed. White isn’t a color. I forgot to mention the dark, dark greens the Japanese Black Pines turn. There is a reason they are called black pines. Annie


  4. Hi Ed,

    I had a question about all of those dwarf conifers I planted earlier this year. Should I brush the snow off of them? I know it acts as an insulator but we get a lot of snow up here in Wisconsin and all but one if them is completely buried. I’m worried about possibly breaking branches too since we had a huge freezing rain storm followed by 10″ of snow. What would be the best thing to do?



    1. Hi Robin –

      We get heavy freezing rain from time to time here in the Pacific Northwest too (rarely do we get 10″ of snow). Over the Christmas holiday of 2008 we had nine inches of snow, followed by a quarter inch of freezing rain, and then topped off with another 8 to 10 inches of snow! Best thing to do is let nature take its course. You could potentially do a lot more damage trying to remove the snow and ice, breaking branches that are currently safely buried. Now, you might find some of your plants have taken on a new shape under the weight of your snow and ice, but most conifers are fairly flexible and should straighten up next spring. You might need to do a little pruning for shape or to remove a broken branch or two.

      You might want to reference a recent comment by Alan on my “Dear Santa” post. He replies to Larry about Mid-West winters and conifers there.



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