Camellia Sasanqua, Narumigata

As the old saying goes, never go grocery shopping when you’re hungry. That might be fine advice for the wallet and the waistline, but for your garden, your deepest winter craving for color means it’s feeding time. That’s when some of the best winter plants like to grow.

I learned my best lessons about winter planting from the exquisite local garden of the late Jane Platt.

A master illusionist, Platt knew how to create a sense of deep space where there was none, layering textures and colors atop Portland’s classic winter evergreens. She turned each season into acts in a year-round drama, pairing plants whose blooms peaked together for an ensemble performance that far outshined any individual plant’s flowers.

Structure, color and light—and the too-seldom celebrated winter quality of aroma—formed a few of Platt’s winter gardening principles, from which we can all learn.