Plan your garden with a vision for how trees, shrubs, perennials, and grasses will look during the winter. Do your planting during the spring, summer, and fall months; then sit back and enjoy your landscape—from a window sipping hot chocolate—when the temperatures plummet.

As you approach this idea of winter interest in the garden, it’s important to hold two key concepts in mind: First, envision how a plant, tree, or shrub might look in the winter—under a blanket of snow, a coating of ice, with dead blades of grass, or no leaves. Second, be patient. You may buy a cotoneaster in June; enjoy its delicate flowers in spring and summer, and patiently await the display of berries in fall and winter.

Instead of looking for color, think about the actual structure of plants, without leaves. Think about branching, bark, texture, and possible fruit. For evergreens, pay attention to texture, foliage and shape. Perennials and ornamental grasses may offer a variety of visual impacts, from tufts of tall golden grass to spindly stalks with seed pods.  Also, don’t forget to look at every season of their life cycle, as well, so the plant’s attributes match your garden style in spring, summer, fall, and winter. Finally, don’t forget the well-established trees, shrubs and perennials that may already by part of your garden. Everything from cedar bark to the pine cones of a spruce tree may take on a new meaning now.