Winter Interest with Plant Select® Plants in the Western Garden

By James E. Klett, Ph.D.
Professor & Landscape Horticultural Specialist
Colorado State University

Landscapes in the western garden should be intriguing, catching the light, glistening with frost all while sturdy under the weight of snow. The Plant Select® palette offers plants with striking winter interest, beckoning many to venture out to explore the garden in the winter.

The following nine plants can add special interest to any western garden during the winter. Celebrate the winter beauty with these Plant Select plants.

Evergreen Trees

Picea glauca ‘Pendula’ – Weeping White Spruce

The graceful foliage, color and weeping form add drama and texture to the winter landscape. It matures to about 20 feet tall and 6 feet wide.



Juniperus scopulorum ‘Woodward’ – Woodland Columnar Juniper

This easy-care Rocky Mountain native evergreen, with the soft-textured, dark green foliage that turns grey blue in the winter, adds color and texture to the winter landscape. Plants stand up to windiest conditions and shed snow loads. They mature to about 20 feet tall and 4 feet wide.

Deciduous Plants

Crataegus ambigua – Russian Hawthorn

This hardy small tree has attractive bark in the winter, ferny foliage and white flowers during the growing season, followed by bright red berries that persist into the winter and are a delightful treat for birds. It matures to about 16 feet tall and 12 feet wide.

Viburnum x rhytidophylloides ‘Allegheny’ – Allegheny Viburnum

The broad, textured leaves of Alleghany Viburnum persist into the winter and hang on like frosted ornaments, which offer a stunning contrast. The creamy white flowers produce red berries ripening to plant in fall and into winter. It matures to about 12 to 15 feet tall and 10 to 12 feet wide.


Prunus besseyi ‘P0115’ – Pawnee Buttes®  Sand Cherry

This plant has the graceful, ground-covering form of western native sand cherry. Green leaves turn coppery in fall and can persist some into late fall, which add texture and beauty after the first snowfall. It matures to about 15 inches in height and 4 feet in width.

Ground Covers

Photo by Dave Winger

Veronica liwanensis – Turkish Veronica

This ground cover has small, nearly succulent evergreen leaves, which turn into purplish foliage when temperatures drop and maintain these hues all winter long. Tiny blue flowers cover the plant in the spring. It matures to about 1 inch in height and 18 inches in width.


Eriogonum umbellatum v. aureum ‘Psdowns’ – Kannah Creek®  Buckwheat

Masses of yellow flower turn more orangish as they age and evergreen foliage turns purple-red that persists during winter. It is a vigorous and adaptable western native. It matures to about 12 inches in height and 18 inches in width.



Arctostaphylos x coloradoensis ‘Chieftain’ – Chieftain Manzanita

This vigorous selection of western native Manzanita has evergreen oval leaves, pinkish-white flowers in spring, and reddish bark. The foliage of this Manzanita is lovely when covered by frost and blanketed in snow. It matures to about 2 feet in height and 6 feet in width.


Calamagrostis brachytricha – Korean Feather Reed Grass

It is an elegant clump former with feathery summer flowers and an attractive fall and winter presence. The first snowfall on Korean Feather grass is exquisitely beautiful. It is adaptable, easy to grow and matures to 36 inches in height and 24 inches in width.