Part III: How to Add Visual Interest to Your Garden for the Winter Months

Have you lived in the Midwest for a while? Yes? Then what I’m about to tell you isn’t news. Winter is our predominant season. Yes, we are lucky to enjoy a colorful world for about four to five months of the year. But what about the rest of the year, when everything seems bare, gray and brown? How do we add visual interest to our landscapes?



One way is to add evergreen material and ornamental grasses. Another great idea is to rock your garden! That’s right, by adding outcropping stones, dry creek beds, tasteful statues and ornamentation, your landscape can remain picturesque even during our long, cold winters.

Rock On!

First, about the terminology. What’s the difference between rocks and stones? Depends on where you look and whom you ask. Some say rocks are the raw material direct from the quarry, while stones are rounded, smoother from exposure to the elements. Others say rock is the Earth’s crust which is comprised of many stones. Some say rocks are big; stones are small. I’m going to just use them interchangeably.

Like a Rolling Stone

Hardscaping is wonderfully versatile. It doesn’t matter if your garden is large or small, wet or dry, shady or sunny. You won’t be caught between a rock and a hard place. New technologies (a supplier of mine creates authenticlooking rock formations from concrete!) and materials are making it more affordable to design with rock and stones. From a single container succulent rock garden, to a winding stone pathway, to an elaborate waterfall feature, incorporating rocks and stones in your landscape adds elegance and visual appeal.



What’s more, rocks and stones play nicely with others. Outcropping stones are gorgeous when accented with ornamental grasses. Dry creeks bordered by perennials or winding beneath large trees are exquisite. You can even set a few large stones near a butterfly bush so the insects have a place to rest and warm in the sun. Rocks are content to play second fiddle to blooms during the warmer months when flowering plants take center stage, and equally pleased to take the spotlight during http:/nas/content/live/rainbowgarddev/ the winter months.

Leave no stone unturned! Here are just a few of my favorite ways to incorporate rocks and stones in a landscape:

  • Cobbled pathway
  • Rustic stairway
  • Dry creek bed
  • Outdoor fireplace
  • Decorative well
  • Grotto Stone benches
  • Elegant statuary
  • Garden wall and berm (tour the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Garden Wall and Berm September 19)
  • Rock garden