The Garden in Winter
In cold, northern climates the winter garden is a very different place than the spring, summer and fall gardens. The showy flowers are gone as are the vegetables and herbs. The butterflies have discontinued their dance and the bees have departed as have many of the songbirds who visit over the warm months but head south when they sense winter is arriving.
The garden enters a quiet time when little may be stirring but this does not mean that there is nothing going on. The winter garden does it have to be a barren and bleak space.
If you live, as I do, in a region that has long winters and much snow, you do not have to abandon your garden just because the snow falls. You may choose to appreciate its beauty from a warm and comfy indoor location and a convenient wind; even so, there can still be much to show.
When designing the garden be sure to include plants that provide form, colour and texture all through the year, especially in the winter months. Should you have the space to include a large deciduous tree pick one base upon how it looks when it drops all its leaves and stands there bare.
The empty branches and trunk will dominate the winterscape so be sure they are pleasing. Pay close attention to bark, its colour and symmetry can draw your eye on a cold winter’s day.
Evergreen hold their needles all year round and the smoky blues and hues of green contrast the grey skies and white snow that fill the long winter weeks.
The evergreens also provide shelter for the birds that remain all through the year and they bring their own beauty to the winter garden.
The seed heads of ornamental grasses are pleasing to the eye and they also provide food for the birds.
Shrubs provide berries for the birds and beauty for the gardener, give some though to a shrub such as red osier dogwood, its red bark stands out against the snow. The red dogwood works well in the front yard and helps create curb appeal even during the hard days that winter often brings.
Gardening is an adventure in both space and time, so when you sit down to design your garden and choose the plants, remmebr that the garden does not disappear when the warm weather ends, it transforms and when properly designed can delight the senses even on the coldest day.