By Janet Eastman | The Oregonian/OregonLive
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on February 02, 2016 at 5:05 AM, updated February 02, 2016 at 8:13 AM
Winter is a time to leave your perch that looks over a garden and swoop in close. Only then will you be able to see what resting birds do: peeling black bark, the tiniest pink buds and vibrant red berries.
Even the subtle variations of green and cream on leaves of variegated box-leaf azara (Azara microphylla 'Variegata') can capture attention when activity is slow and the sky is gray. Or the pop of yellow against white provided by a Christmas rose or the sunburst creation of the Chief Joseph lodgepole pine.
If you need planting ideas for a winter garden, take a stroll through Hoyt Arboretum in Portland's Washington Park.
The arboretum, which houses more than 6,000 trees and plants from around the world, is an enchanting place during the year's coldest -- some would mistakenly say bleakest -- season. Ornamental and native plants are showing off colors, textures and shapes you might not see any other time of the year.
Just look at the twisty, bare bones structure of a corkscrew hazel (Corylus avellana 'Contorta'). Squint and the patchy dark on a light background of Snow Gum branches (Eucalyptus pauciflora subsp. debeuzevillei) look like a giraffe's neck bending to the ground.
Visit the Hoyt Arboretum now and you'll also be rewarding with a vision of a blooming 'Showa-No-Sakae' Camellia sasanqua, a prelude to spring.
Hoyt Arboretum's winter garden topography "provides viewing windows for the plants and simulates the motion of water in the rockery and drainage creek bed," says the arboretum's horticulturist Mark McKinney. "Several plants are currently flowering, such as our hellebores, viburnums, witch hazels and contorted filbert. The flowering cycles of the plants interact with diverse foliage texture and bark colors."
Volunteers at the arboretum's Visitor Center are ready with self-guided tour brochures and gardeners say every tree has a story to tell.
Hoyt Arboretum has a story, too. It was founded in 1928 by timber industry representatives, the U.S. Forest Service, the Portland Parks & Recreation department and enthusiasts to educate scientists to students about vulnerable or endangered species. The arboretum has Dawn Redwood and other rare plants that it conserves across 189 ridge-top acres.
If you're interested in adding something unique to your winter garden, check out Hoyt Arboretum's online Plant Inventory Guide. Better yet, go see for yourself.
Hoyt Arboretum, at 4000 S.W. Fairview Blvd. in Portland, has private, guided and self-guided walking tours. Admission is free. Hours are 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Monday-Friday and 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday (depending on volunteer availability). For more information, visit www.hoytarboretum.org or call 503-865-8733.