Old Man Winter wraps his arms around the garden!
Old Man Winter wraps his arms around the garden!

Here in the Northeast March came in like a lion, and we hope, as the saying goes, it goes out like a lamb. The unusually warm days of late February, had each of us thinking of spring and the many new outdoor projects we are anxious to start. All that was tempered by old man winter, showing up last week, not ready to let go his grasp of the season he commands. Do not despair, for it is the snows of winter that replenish ground water, fill reservoirs, and coat our garden gems with a blanket of white insulation, readying them to set forth as the sun climbs higher and the ground around them thaws.

This is a great time of year to take stock of what was, and what is to come. We look back on the winter garden scene and see the last of its energy in the berries and seed heads that have survived the hungry birds. We see it in the spent foliage, some left to experience in all its winter glory and some left because we simply ran out of time to clean it up. It is a time to view the structure and balance of the garden, a time to discover holes in our design, and rethink the themes we have built on, a time to remember, and a time for opportunity.  This is a time to take a few moments, or hours, and experience our outdoor spaces, take notice of past gardening triumphs and failures, discover the feeling the garden imparts, and be inspired to new ideas and additions.

As the remnants of last year’s season begin to mix with the squishy black tones of the muddy ground as the frost begins to melt away, we are left with a sometimes unsightly composition. But even as the ground oozes and the roadsides reveal the sands of winter plowing, we are heartened by the thought of what is to come over the next few short weeks. Crocus will soon start to appear, giving us hope and refreshing our spirit. Soon after, other bulbs and then the beautiful yellows of our old friendly Forsythia. Before long the Sun will warm our spirit as it does the earth and Spring will dawn again and we will find ourselves in the garden hoeing, turning soil, planting and feeling refreshed. A feeling tempered after those first few days by the aches and stiffness brought on by winter’s complacency, sending us searching for the Ibuprofen. Only then will we feel alive again.

See you in the garden,

Scott

www.blueheronlandscapes.com

The Garden in Winter

The Garden in Winter

Spruce anchor a winter scene
Spruce anchor a winter scene

I stare out the window each morning over coffee, and my thoughts can’t help but speed ahead to the warm days of spring and the first buds to pop. I would find it hard to fight these feelings of longing, were it not for the plants in the garden that provide me with something to enjoy during these stark cold days, plants that display something that gives them winter interest. Consider the elegant trunk of a large Beech Tree, the whimsical shape of a Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick, the elegant evergreen foliage of a False Cypress, or any of the many shrubs that produce fruit and attract wildlife. These plants provide for me, a feast for the senses.

When winter blankets our gardens and leaves us feeling confined and isolated, our gardens are eagerly exposing their bones, sending us an invitation to venture out into the cold to experience a wonderland of sights and sounds. For those of us who prefer not to accept that invitation, the placement of a plant with winter interest within sight of a special window, will provide enjoyment from within the warm confines of the home. Imagine sipping on a hot cup of coffee each morning or sharing late afternoon refreshments with a close friend or two, overlooking a beautiful vignette of ornamental grass covered with snow and back lit by the sun. Breathtaking!

Winter plant interest has taken a back seat to all the new and beautiful foliage and blossom introductions that flood the market each year, but let us also remember to focus on those plants that provide something for us, even as we are forgetting that they are still out there. As you begin to think about your spring projects and plan for new plants, ask yourself what special quality they will provide come winter, and where will they best be viewed. You’ll be glad you did, come next February.

For a fun project, spend a little time during this cold snowy winter exploring your garden. Look at its structure and its plants, determine areas of interest, and even if there are areas of interest. Take a camera with you and snap a few random shots in different directions, then study the photos. Often you will see things in these photos that were not as obvious to the naked eye. Having a photo will also get you back inside and back to that hot cup of coffee!

Here’s hoping you enjoy your winter wonderland,

Scott
www.blueheronlandscapes.com