The UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens is hosting a free winter garden walk at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26.
The tour will begin at the school’s greenhouse where Larry Mellichamp, gardens director, will give a short talk on winter plants. Afterward, visitors will walk through the Susie Harwood Garden with garden staff members to see the bark, berries – even blooms – that a southern garden can provide in winter.
If you’re inspired by what you see, you can check out the Botanical Gardens’ winter plant sale, which runs 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. the same day. For more information, call 704-687-0719 or check out the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens site.
No truly winter-blooming species are native to the area, according to Mellichamp, and if you think about it, it makes sense: There are few pollinators available when plants produce flowers in January.
Plant a winter-interest garden now
Winter-interest trees and plants often carry berries late in the year, or produce shaggy or ornamental bark that looks striking when rimmed with frost. A walk through the Botanical Gardens reveals there’s a lot to choose from.
“The boldest [choice] would be camellias,” says Paul Gross, assistant director of the botanical gardens. “An old-fashioned favorite would be winter honeysuckle, Lonicera fragrantissima (and) also Lenten Rose, for a perennial. The best ‘newcomer’ would be Edgeworthia chrysantha.” For what Gross calls a “classically Asian” choice, there’s Japanese apricot, or Prunus mume.
For colorful twigs, Gross recommends coral bark Japanese maple or bloodtwig dogwood. And for winter fragrance, she loves wintersweet, Chimonanthus and winter daphne, Daphne odora.