Top 10 Winter Plants

This plant is keeping its shape and color -- even while covered in ice. See pictures of famous gardens.

­Fair weather or foul, nature finds a way to create variety and interest in the garden, and winter is no exception. Whether they're blooming through a crust of snow, or showing off their vivid colors­ while dropping temperatures force us indoors, hardy winter plants are doing more than just surviving when the winter rolls in; they're thriving. These garden inhabitants create interest, texture and a touch of the unexpected in the landscape when our springtime favorites are taking a long winter's nap -- and they do it with style.

Let's take a look at 10 plants, trees and shrubs that can transform a barren, chilly landscape into a winter wonderland. For each plant, we'll discuss what it will look like in your garden, what type of soil and water it needs, where it should be planted, and some tips and tricks to give it a chance to excel. We'll also look at what zones the plants do best in, according to the USDA Hardiness Zone Map. This map splits North America into 11 sections, numbered 1 to 11, with each section being 10 degrees Fahrenheit (12.22 degrees Celsius) warmer or colder than the next section. This map is used to illustrate which plants can survive in which regions [source: United States National Arboretum].

With a little imagination, and some well-deserved admiration for these special plants, even gardeners who don't like to get cold feet will start to see gardening potential in the cooler months of the year. Exercising a green thumb when you have to bury it in the snow takes dedication, but there are some plants that deserve the effort. Give winter gardening a try; you might just discover that the cold is cooler than you thought.

First up, the camellia.