Winter: December - February
Once the first night frosts have occurred in the Forest Botanical Garden there seems to be a short period of complete dormancy. This is the time of observant visitors, of nature lovers who are not put off by the bleakness of deciduous trees and who take the trouble to take a close look at all those subtle details which tend to be overlooked between spring and fall, when the richness in shapes and colours distracts the eye easily.
For example, there are pinkish-lilac berries hanging from Symphoricarpus x chenaultii and S. x doorenbosii, and the yellow pomes of Chaenomeles species. The scarlet berries of the indigenous Guelder Rose (Viburnum opulus) are particularly beautiful when covered by a layer of white frost, ice, or snow and twinkling in the sunlight. In case of a warm fall a few days of suitable weather conditions may be sufficient to make the Winter Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) open its first flowers. Winter buds of high aesthetic value can be found in Sorbus sambucifolia, Horse Chestnut, and Pontiac Oak (Quercus pontica).
Most people take it for granted that the buds of trees and shrubs are protected from harsh winter conditions by a number of bud scales. These are covered in resin, pubescent, sticky, or pruinose in some woody plants. Some species lack protective scales completely, and a minute version of the following year’s foliage is visible at the bud tip. In the Garden you will find splendid examples of these bare buds in the Caucasian Wingnut (Pterocarya fraxinifolia) and the indigenous Alder Buckthorn (Frangula alnus).
The attractiveness of flowers and fruits during spring, summer, and fall is out of question. However, in many cases they conceal other unique and notable structures of woody plants. A lot of trees and shrubs are characterized by an attractive bark, such as the thin, flaky and orange bark of the indigenous Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris), the cinnamon-like, peeling bark of the Paperbark Maple (Acer griseum), and the green and white banded bark of the Red Snakebark Maple (Acer capillipes) and the Honshu Maple (A. rufinerve).
Bark of Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris)
Bark of the Red Sbakebark Maple (Acer capillipes)
Those who want to discover the beauty of nature just have to look hard enough. Even on rainy or freezing days you can enjoy the beauty of grasses and herbaceous perennial plants covered in dewdrops or white frost, or of Himalayan Pinus wallichiana decorated in the same fashion.
continue: Winter flowering (January - February)
back: Fall (October - November)