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A Gardener's Winter

Jan 03, 2022 02:31AM ● By Flint Zerangue, Sr.
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There may not be a lot you can do in your garden during the winter months, especially if you’re in a colder part of the country. However, there is plenty you can do that will keep you connected to the garden you love while preparing to get your hands dirty next spring.

Evaluate the structure of your garden. The human body has a skeleton that gives it structure. The garden has a similar framework, which is made up of permanent and structural items and plantings. Trees, shrubs, paths, ponds, arbors, trellises and benches are all part of a garden’s bones. With few leaves to get in the way, winter is a good time to see how your garden’s framework is holding up. Study your garden’s bones from all vantage points.

  • Look at tree and shrub sizes to see which ones have gotten too big for their current location. Consider if they need to be moved or if a good pruning can bring them back to scale.
  • See if there are any unattractive areas, such as the house foundation or a fence, that need something to screen them off.
  • Examine the lines created by garden bed edges, sidewalks and the driveway. Beds may need some reshaping, and the hard lines of a sidewalk may need to be softened with plantings and mulch.

Make sure you have plenty of winter interest. With many plants dying for the winter, gardens can be uninspiring. Gaping holes in the landscape; flattened, nondescript areas; and a distinct lack of color are signs you need to perk things up for winter.

  • Evergreen conifers come in all shapes and sizes, and they are not all green. They can add height, texture, color and scent to an otherwise dull landscape and provide visual interest in the snow. Look for combinations of shapes and colors, keeping your garden’s particular sun and water conditions in mind.
  • When the leaves fall off some plants, a beautiful sight can be revealed. Whether it’s the brightly colored branches of a red- or yellow-stemmed dogwood shrub or the peeling bark of a river birch, the colors and textures of branches can be pretty sights in winter gardens.
  • Look for architectural features to add to the landscape. Arbors, trellises, bird baths and garden art can catch the winter light, create intriguing shadows and frame interesting views.
  • Resist the urge to cut back perennial grasses and plants that have gone dormant. The feathery fronds of pampas grass glow in a winter sunrise and the dried blossoms of a sedum “Autumn Joy” catch snow and attract small birds.

Dream, plan and dream some more. Load up on seed and plant catalogs, research what works in your area, sketch out new ideas, think through plant rearrangements and have some fun making plans for next growing season. When spring finally arrives, you’ll be ready to turn your winter dreaming into reality.

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Photo courtesy of Unsplash


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