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The Garden in Winter

Updated on October 17, 2011

winter beauty

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.

red osier dogwood

courtesy Nol Zia Lee/flickr
courtesy Nol Zia Lee/flickr


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  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick

    You are welcome, thanks for dropping by.

  • reddog1027 profile image

    reddog1027 7 years ago from Atlanta, GA

    Like you I live where there is lots of snow. I love my garden as much in the winter as I do in the summer. Thanks for another good hub.

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick

    Leaving plants with seedheads is a great way to bring birds to the winter garden, thank you both for dropping by.

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

    Thank you very much vor a lovely read.

  • Dolores Monet profile image

    Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States

    Great gardening tips, as usual, Bob. I've been looking at my garden this morning with the snow shadowing everything in white and it is beautiful.

    I leave a lot of perennial plants uncut so that the birds can come and eat the seeds. They really go for the coneflower seeds.

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick

    I have lived in a Zone 4 area for 18 years or so, thanks for dropping by and happy gardening.

  • Dim Flaxenwick profile image

    Dim Flaxenwick 7 years ago from Great Britain

    Thank you so much. I'm moving to a colder climate this year and I've been dreading it. You make me feel a little better. I must consider shrubs. Thanks again

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick

    Michael and myawn thank you, suziecat17, the images winter creates are enduring, thank you all for dropping by.

  • suziecat7 profile image

    suziecat7 7 years ago from Asheville, NC

    I particularly like the way the snow looks on the winter stems of thistle. You are right, every season has its beauty even in the garden. Very nice Hub.

  • myawn profile image

    myawn 7 years ago from Florida

    very nice and very pretty writing

  • Michael Shane profile image

    Michael Shane 7 years ago from Gadsden, Alabama

    Your a terrific writer! Enjoyed it so.....