Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: Dead-of-Winter Vase

Not even witch hazel is in flower. Snow drops may well be in full bloom but, since they're buried beneath a foot or two of snow, who can tell? With such deep and sustained cold, the expression "dead of Winter" seems all too appropriate. 


It's just the time to go out into the garden for a huge bouquet. Handily, this one doesn't need what isn't there anyway: Loads of green color and vivid flowers. Fine. Ebony and cinnamon, burgundy and tan: These are colors the garden has aplenty. And thanks to unusual plants, they can be had in exciting forms, sizes, and textures.


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Winter-bronzed leaves of Magnolia grandiflora 'Bracken's Brown Beauty' are still as large and shiny as ones that, on more sheltered branches, have retained their green. Young twigs of Salix alba 'Cardinalis' turn orange in cold weather, and hold that color no matter how bitter Winter gets. Fuzzy wine-red berry clusters of Rhus typhina 'Laciniata' look as good against heavy snow as they do indoors.   


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In the picture below, seedheads of Verbena bonariensis on ceiling-high stems bring airy top notes to the arrangement. Silver pussies of Salix chaenomeloides are shedding their shiny mahogany-colored covers; in texture and color they are in striking contrast to the ebony of the dry flowerhead of Rodgersia pinnata


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Burgundy-red stems of Cornus alba 'Aurea' echo the flame-like seedheads of the Rhus. Parchment-like Fall leaves of Fagus grandifolia are retained despite the repeated onslaught of rough Winter weather; they only release in early Spring, as if they were pushed off the stems by emerging new foliage. Cut branches of such Fall-foliaged beech are a happy result of one of Winter's more enjoyable tasks: Pruning the beech hedge


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While the dried seedheads of Rhus and Verbena will last indefinitely, the stems of Magnolia, Fagus, Salix, and Cornus need water. The arrangement is in a vase that gets topped up every other day.


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With just the watering, this arrangement could hold for several weeks—by which time witch hazel, aconite, and snow drops will at last be out.

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