Natives for Winter Interest

It will all too soon be winter in the garden, when the view is sparse and bare, sometimes with a dusting or blanket of snow to change the shape of things in the landscape.

Having plants that add beauty and interest in the winter garden can be both a challenge and an unexpected delight. There are some NW natives that add color and/or texture to the winter garden. Here are a few:

Pinus contorta 28263

Pinus contorta var. contorta: Shore Pine

There are several native pines that are standouts in winter, but the twisted shapes of the native Shore Pines area especially attractive.

Arbutus menziesii

Arbutus menziesii: Madrone

The dramatic orange peeling bark of our native Madrone is a striking beauty at any time of year, but stands out especially in winter.


Arctostaphylos uva-ursi: Kinnickinick

This evergreen ground cover will blanket the ground in rich, dark green leaves year-round, providing a solid contrast to the starkness of the winter season.

Deer Fern

Streuthiopteris spicant: Deer Fern

This evergreen fern, with its deeply-dissected fronds and persisting dark/bright green color, is a striking textural addition to the winter garden.

Cornus sericea

Cornus sericea: Red-Twig Dogwood

What can we say? The screamingly brash red upright stems of this shrub make it a stand-out beauty, especially in winter!

Gaultheria shallon

Gaultheria shallon: Salal

This is one of the best garden evergreens with its wide green leathery leaves; it provides an anchor for the winter garden with its solid presence.


Mahonia: Oregon Grape

This one has both texture and color: holly-like prickly leaves with winter color from green to red to maroon and depending on weather and species, this sturdy evergreen shrub won't fail to add interest to your garden in winter.

Amelanchier alnifolia

Amelanchier alnifolia: Serviceberry

The native Serviceberry has three strong seasons of interest, from the bright green leaves and clusters of white flowers in spring, berries in the summer and striking autumn color. In the winter, while not particularly dramatic, the graceful shape of the branches and distinct gray of the bark creates a subtle, graceful presence in the winter garden.

Licorice Fern

Polypodium glycyrrhiza: Licorice Fern

This fern actually breaks dormancy in winter. In the early months of each year, it can be found thriving with bright green abundance in the moss-covered limbs and bases of established trees like Acer macrophyllum. It is one of the plants that heralds the coming of spring.

Sword Fern

Polystichum munitum: Sword Fern

Sword ferns are evergreen and their familiar arching form can be an anchor to your winter woodland garden.

Wild Rose

Rosa: Wild Rose

Though not evergreen, our wild roses all have an interesting, tussled form with varying degree of thorns that add a sculptural element to the garden in winter. Add to that the red of the hips that persist and are attractive to birds, it is a must-have for native garden!