It’s time for our monthly installment of planting ideas from Karen Chapman and Christina Salwitz, the Seattle-based authors of Fine Foliage. This year-round combination is a sure cure for the winter blues when we crave a bold splash of color.

Winter Chic Garden

Why this works: This year-round combination is a sure cure for the winter blues when we crave a bold splash of color. The bright yellow variegated foliage of the wintercreeper and false Japanese holly wake up the dark, sultry spurge. Yet look closely at that purple leaf and you will notice lighter rosy tones which inspired the addition of the softer peach coral bells. Dark green and blue foliage balance the colorful assortment while adding additional textural contrast. This chic combination will always make you smile as each season brings a new wave of interest.

Key Players

Dwarf Japanese holly (Ilex crenata ‘Dwarf Pagoda’) – this dwarf Japanese holly has a sculptural, bonsai-like quality with evergreen, shiny leaves covering the stiff, stubby branches that grow in a rather irregular pattern. It is a perfect candidate for rock gardens or containers where it can be left to develop slowly to a 4’ tall and 2’ wide column.  Sunset climate zones: 3-9, 14–24, 31–35, 37

Ruby Glow spurge (Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘Ruby Glow’) – deep purple velvety foliage is brightened by the rosy tones found on the stems and undersides of the leaves. In spring this compact, evergreen perennial seems to glow as the bright yellow bracts explode from the red new growth. (The sap is a skin irritant – always wear gloves when handling). To 18” tall and wide. Sunset climate zones 2b–24 ‘Goshiki’ false Japanese holly (Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘Goshiki’) – one of our favorite ‘go to’ plants this evergreen holly-like foliage is a standout in the landscape or containers. Deer resistance and drought tolerance are two important attributes but the dramatic gold and green variegation with coppery new growth is the main reason we seek it out for designs. This low maintenance shrub grows moderately slowly to 4’ tall and wide. Sunset climate zones 4–10, 14–24, 28–33