I'm a little late putting up the holiday decorations inside my house this year. Actually ---let's be honest--- I always seem to be a little late putting up my holiday decorations. There's just something about late autumn, and the stark beauty of early winter, that keeps me focused on the garden outdoors. I love frosty mornings and sudden snow squalls, and the way that peeling tree bark and tiny red winterberries glimmer with a fresh coat of ice. With the ground frozen and no weeds to pull, I have more time to enjoy my garden at this time of year. Because of this, I have purposefully designed my landscape for late-season interest, with a focus on winter.
If you live in a cold-climate like I do, or even one with more subtle seasonal shifts, the winter will reveal more of your garden's structure. When leaves drop and lush, green lawns fade, the underlying patterns of the landscape really stand-out. Now is the time when I most appreciate the shape of my Japanese maple and the peachy-cream tones of paper birch trees. When light snow dusts my garden ---the stonewalls and stairs coated like sweets in a bakeshop--- they are every bit as beautiful as they are in late May. Of course, I do add some extra sparkle to the night garden at this time of year ---twinkling lights sprinkled here and there--- and I like like to decorate the door with fresh evergreen wreaths and garlands. But with the richly textured ornamental grass, bright red berries and colorful twigs in the garden, the landscape itself needs little additional decoration.
Do you long for season-spanning beauty in your garden, but struggle with design, planning and other details? You certainly aren't alone. Although garden centers stock many trees and shrubs with beautiful "bones", it's hard for the average gardener to see beyond the color and fragrance of spring flowers. Most gardens are planted with May and June in mind, and once the flowers and foliage fade in these landscapes, things start to look a bit bland and barren. Although it's been around for a few years, I just recently discovered Suzy Bales' beautiful and informative book, Garden in Winter. With down-to-earth advice, helpful design tips and beautifully photographed examples, this title is the perfect resource for winter-garden enthusiasts.
How is your garden looking these days? Are the trees in your garden bare or brilliant with lights?