7 Fantastic Ways to Create Beautiful Cold Climate Gardens

Gardening in colder climates takes more patience than regular seasonal gardening. For those in zones 1-5, there aren’t as many options available for the garden. Your cold climate garden will only accept hardier plants that can survive frigid temperatures throughout the year.

For this reason, adding any color to your garden can be difficult. However, there are a few options that work well to distinguish your cold climate garden from others around the area.


7 Fantastic Ways to Create Beautiful Cold Climate GardensZone 5 Color OptionsPlant Options for Zone 5 and ColderGrowing Beautiful Evergreens​Designing a Colorful Garden AreaConclusion


Zone 5 Color Options

When you’re looking at your options, there aren’t a lot of obvious choices for adding color. Most flowering plants aren’t hardy enough to withstand the lower temperatures in your gardening zone, but most of the plants that can live in the area simply don’t have any color to give to your space. So, what do you do?

While you don’t have a lot of flowering options, there are hardier plants that can grow in zones 1-5 that will showcase beautifully colored leaves and foliage, as well as a few flowering shrubs and woody plants. Additionally, you can look for colored evergreens. This choice won’t lend the same amount of color as a flowering plant, but it will still give something unique to your garden.

Your other alternative is to skip the colorful plants entirely and add year-round color with non-living garden additions. I’m not talking about fake plants, but a variety of solid features that will decorate your garden and add a gorgeous pop of color.

Plant Options for Zone 5 and Colder

For those in zones 1-4 there are limited options, but zone 5 gardeners can find some gorgeous plants to fill up space in the garden and add the color you want. Here are some of my favorites:

1.  Winter Aconite

Via Gardengatenotes.com

These petite flowers have a bright yellow, cheery color that stands out against a mostly green or brown garden. Winter Aconite has tight circular blooms and a fan of green leaves underneath each flower. It’s a short plant that won’t overtake your garden, but it makes a great addition for a cheery winter garden.Winter Aconite is hardy in zones 3 – 7.

2. Witch Hazel

Via Bhg.com

As a commonly grown cold climate plant, With Hazel is famous for its spidery, curled-up flowers and dramatic colors. Along with the colorful yellow, orange, red, and green flowers, there are also bright leaves that will add a statement piece in your garden. This shrub can grow tall, so some pruning and regular maintenance will be best for controlling it and keeping all that color in your garden.Witch Hazel is hardy in zones 5 – 9.

3. Spike Winterhazel

Via Greatplantpicks.org

Similar to Witch Hazel, this tall shrub has long, droopy yellow and green flowers which have a highly unique appearance. Not only will they act as a pop of color, but this plant also gives your garden a sense of character it may not have already. These shrubs are slow growers that don’t reach tremendous heights, so they are easy to contain in your garden.Spike Winterhazel is hardy in zones 5 – 8.

4. Ruby Vase (Persian Ironwood)

Via Houzz.com

A common suggestion for zone 5 gardens, Persian Ironwood is colorful in different ways throughout the year. It is a flowering plant with gorgeous ruby-colored blooms that open up in the late winter. During the fall the leaves turn orange, whereas they are green with purple edges throughout the rest of the year.Ruby Vase is hardy in zones 5 – 7.

5. Star Magnolia

Via Flickr.com

White may not be the color you were intending if you live in an area with heavy snowfall, but these gorgeous white blooms can add a great accent to an otherwise green and brown garden. These woody shrubs can grow fairly tall and wide, and they bloom from every branch tip.Star Magnolia is hardy in zones 4 – 9.

6. Hydrangea

Many people like hydrangeas because of the range of colors they come in and the size of the flower heads. Each flower head contains a multitude of flowers that can be anything from blue to pink or lavender. They are easy to grow and can become quite tall if you don’t trim them down.Hydrangea is hardy in zones 3 – 9.

Growing Beautiful Evergreens

It’s not impossible to get color from hardy evergreen plants. Those in planting zones 1 – 5 have more options in the evergreens than in traditional shrubs and plants. Here are some of my favorite colorful evergreens:

1. Azalea

Via Flickr.com

There are deciduous varieties of Azaleas, but there are also evergreens which are hardier. Many varieties of this shrub exist, with some extending all the way down to zone 4 and showing bright blooms throughout part of the year.Certain Azalea varieties are hardy in zones 4 – 8.​

2. Purple Leaf Rose

A hardy, flowering evergreen, these roses only show their blooms for a few weeks out of the year, but they keep their beautiful gray-purple leaves year-round. The leaves are some of the main attractions that will look wonderful in your garden.Purple Leaf Rose is hardy in zones 2 – 8.​

3. Diablo Ninebark

The reddish-purple leaves and bright red stems on this evergreen make it a real statement piece in your garden. You can surround it with anything and it will still look fantastic with brightly contrasting colors.Diablo Ninebark is hardy in zones 3 – 7.​

​Designing a Colorful Garden Area

If you want to try something that doesn’t involve colorful plants, your best option is to add colored features to your garden area. Some of my suggestions include:

  • Painted rocks
  • Brightly colored benches or chairs
  • Bird baths (with the added bonus of bringing colorful birds in warmer weather)
  • Plant pots

Use your imagination and come up with ideas of your own about how you could add some color to your cold climate garden with non-living objects instead of plants. This is an anything goes option that can be as unique as you want it to be!


Cold climate gardening doesn’t have to be all green and brown throughout the year. Try out these suggestions for getting color in your garden in any season and making a prettier landscape that you can enjoy even more.

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