Create a Winter Wonderland with berries, blooms & foliage

By Norman Winter

Inspiration and tips for holiday and early-winter gardening with evergreens and late-fall blooming Encore® Azaleas

The magic of Christmas comes from being with friends and family, and celebrating time-honored traditions and memories. We at Encore®Azalea and the Southern Living®Plant Collection want to be a part of this also, and have beautiful ideas to help you create a winter wonderland of nature.

Imagine a landscape full of red, white, green and gold. We aren’t talking strings of lights, but actual red and white blooms from late autumn-blooming Encore®Azaleas and stunning blooms from the Southern Living®Plant Collection. These are blooms that will still be feeding late season pollinators, too.

There are two late season-blooming red Encore®Azaleas to choose from – the taller intermediate Autumn Bravo™and the shorter compact Autumn Ruby™. Both would make idyllic companions to the glistening white blossoms of Autumn Lily™.

To create a landscape winter wonderland however, you will want more plants. Hollies have long been a part of Christmas tradition, and the Southern Living®Plant Collection has just what you need to not only be the perfect foil or backdrop for your Encore®Azaleas, but to put you in a “holly jolly” frame of mind.

Robin™Holly, with its deep evergreen foliage and bounty of dark red berries, will look like the proverbial Christmas postcard. This tree has a natural pyramidal shape and reaches 15- to 20-feet tall. Imagine the delight of the red Northern Cardinals coming to get the berries. It can be used as a specimen and is unbelievably picturesque planted in clusters of three with Encore®Azaleas in front. 

The Southern Living®Plant Collection ‘Yuletide’ Camellia sasanqua is the ultimate Christmas shrub. It’s one of the most loved of all camellias in bloom when the family arrives for the holidays. It is evergreen, providing the bones and structure needed in a good landscape, yet yielding uncountable Christmas red blooms with bright golden stamens appearing as if they were nature’s idea of tinsel. 

The ‘Yuletide’ too, can be grown as a 5-foot-tall specimen, or in clusters with hollies and Encore®Azaleas. If you want to add a splash of dramatic gold in the landscape, look no further than Forever Goldy Arborvitae. This 24-karat gold-colored arborvitae will look both rich and exquisite combined with the typical dark green leaves and red blooms of Autumn Bravo™. This new addition to the Southern Living®Plant Collection is evergreen – or should we say ever gold – and is compact, reaching 10- to 12-feet tall and 3 ½-feet wide.

There is one more shrub we find magical in the Christmas landscape, and that is Yewtopia®Plum Yew. If your landscape is more part sun, then select this shrub to plant in informal sweeps or drifts alternating with the red Autumn Ruby™or white Autumn Lily™.

If you are not familiar with this plant, it is a compact conifer with needle-like foliage reminding you of Christmas. This elegant shrub reaches 3- to 4-feet tall and wide – a most incredible border plant. 

If you’re looking for more ways to “deck your landscape” this season, we hope you’ll find these suggestions to be the picture-perfect solution.