CO-Horts Blog

Monday, January 30, 2023

Colorful Winter Stems

by Yvette Henson

Winter can feel so devoid of color.  There are no flowers blooming, the deciduous trees and shrubs are bare.  The grass is no longer green.  But that same grass is now a butterscotch gold against the snow.  The branches of deciduous shrubs sometimes develop an even deeper color in the cold that is unveiled with the loss of leaves.

The following three photos are of various willows that I see along my weekly and sometimes daily drives.  I purposely look for these patches of yellow, peach and red stems- bright pops of color in an otherwise gray and white world.  Willows are in the genus Salix.  I decided not to attempt to identify those in these photos to species-- willows can be difficult and there are no flowers or leaves to help.  

These red, orange and yellow willows grow along
Highway 62 on Dallas Divide, SW Coloraodo

These golden willow trees are on my drive to work
(I don't even notice them in the summer)
These peachy red willows, along this irrigation ditch, 
can grow out of control

Another very popular shrub grown in many gardens all over the world, is red-twig dogwood.  It is popular because of the bright color of the stems, especially against the snow.  We have a native species, Cornus sericea.  It can be found growing on the gravelly banks of rivers. 

Our Colorado native red-twig dogwood
(growing along the San Miguel River in SW Colorado)

Willows and red twig dogwood are riparian plants, which means they grow in wetlands along rivers, streams and other bodies of water.  In the winter it may be difficult to tell them apart.  

red twig dogwoods have opposite stem and leaf arrangement
(side branches grow in the same location on each side of the main stems)

Willows have alternate stem & leaf arrangement
(the side branches originate at different locations along the stem).

What are some plants that brighten up your winter landscape?

No comments:

Post a Comment