Trees and shrubs that attract the gaze in wintertime are very useful for encouraging viewers to see the world of plants in a different light. Some plants impress with their peculiar growth form.
The Japanese Dogwood (Cornus kousa) is an elegant ornamental shrub with markedly horizontal branching that makes it an eye-catcher in winter, too. The branches of other woody plants make compelling patterns: southern beeches (Nothofagus antarctica) have a very unusual growth pattern and branch out in the form of fishbones. Their bark ranges from dark brown to nearly black with conspicuous light-colored flecks. The small leaves, appearing in spring, are crimped and shine gold yellow in the fall.
The delicate twigs of the creeping cotoneaster (Cotoneaster horizontalis) are – again, like fishbones – evenly spaced and impressive in front of a light background, such as the wall of a house. This ornamental shrub sports gleaming red berries in the fall and often into the winter.
Evenly spaced branches have the advantage of providing all leaves with an approximately the same amount of light without being shaded out by each other. From a design standpoint, these plants are ideal for enriching a garden no longer decorated by lush blossoms or intense fall colors. It becomes apparent just how fascinating gardening can be when structure and form become the focus of plant choices.