Snowy Dunes at Niagara Falls

Listen Up

I, Clarisse Cardinal take issue with anyone saying there is no winter interest in small gardens. I am pretty darn happy here in the Falls at this time of year, and as I fly, have seen so much beauty in this wonderland of snow and ice. I am in no rush for Spring, no rushing for the chore of raising my young. I love these care free days. I live in a BIG garden here at Niagara Falls, so let’s take a look. (Doesn’t Clarisse look mad above? Funny, huh?)

Take a look at the snow dunes, sure the wind is wicked, but without nature’s fury there would not be this pretty windswept scene. The sun is out, but barely, and my friends and I are having a great time. It is not even that cold at 37 degrees today. But I did not say it was not windy!

My friend Chester Cardinal is braving the wind in the pear tree and having ‘a really bad hair day’.

The wind damaged these trees, but it is still a pretty sight. A few of my friends had to relocate, but all found better digs.

You don’t believe me, so let’s keep walking and flying, this way please, …

down the pretty people path filled with fallen icicles.

This is where I live. Is it not a wonderful place? My friend, Sparky Sparrow lives in the tree in front during the Summer in his gorgeous summer nest.

Sylvester Squirrel also is a tree dweller and gets into so much mischief, you cannot but have ‘winter interest’ when he is around. I am introducing you to all my friends because they help make this place a great place to live. I bet you noticed we are not afraid of the humans. In fact, we are always looking for handouts.

“I promise to be a good squirrel, cross my heart. Don’t listen to Clarisse, she is a bit of a story-teller, plus a busybody too. Always knowing something about everybody.”

This is where Chester and the Mrs. live.

Mrs. Chester Squirrel is a bit snooty but has a lot of dinner parties. See the evergreens in back, it is party central back there. The sparrows are the absolute worse. Seed everywhere and a lot of hanky panky back in those conifers.

Sunflower seed is on the menu at Chester’s lodge.

See all the trees we have. Highrise and the more economical models.

I am not a crazy bird, I won’t fly here, like those dimwitted seagulls. Surprisingly, there are none here today.

Oops, there is one now. You just have to look a little harder. No wonder we are called birdbrained, giving us as a species a bad name.

This is Carl Cardinal. He is a bit of a lady’s man and a real player. We don’t chirp, though.

Yet, my friend Donna painted him for her blog banner. He has a big head already and did not need a billboard with his face on it. Look at him puff out his chest and pose. Just like in the blog header. Such a pretty boy.

Tree wearing a coat of ermine ice. No ermines harmed in the process though.

And meet Terry, the Tufted Titmouse.

This tree is wearing a stylish hat over its crew cut, kinda funny if you ask me.

This is my good friend, Black-capped Chickadee. He likes perching on colorful pickup sticks. I guess being black and white yourself gets a little boring.

It is pretty here and we don’t even have to look at the Falls. But let’s take a quick peek anyway since we are here.

Close up of the brink and it is cold and windy.

Step back and look at what you find. Rainbows are here everyday it is sunny almost.

Pretty path for the humans and a great tree for Randy Robin and family.

Did you see any winter interest?

I hope so because I think there is plenty here. This is the garden I share with my friends, but I bet in your own garden you have a lot of winter beauty. It is all around you in the softly fallen snow, in the crystallized ice, in the bulbs pushing through the moist soil, and in the rushing cold water. Your trees and shrubs are wearing their winter finest, just waiting for you to snap a few shots.

Winter is magical in just about anyone’s garden, all you have to do is find the spot and the moment. Hear that Garden Rant? There is winter interest to find in all size gardens, but I brought you to the Falls and big landscapes liked Garden Rant suggested.

She is right that it is almost guaranteed to find winter beauty here, but even the small gardens can find trees, critters, paths, slices of their architecture and snow-covered logs in their own garden. Grab a beautiful borrowed view from your neighbor for the big garden look.

I disagree a bit because I live minutes from the Falls and I visit often. I can find beauty in early Spring and late Fall. There is not a time where the interest is missing. I did a post in Fall with loads of Fall color, but here in Niagara Falls, we almost miss late Fall and get swept right into Winter. Same with early Spring, there is not a gradual change of seasons like most places. I will make sure to post trips to the Falls more often.

Could you not find these wonderful textures in your garden? The bark of trees, the cut of stone, the fall of water turned to ice. The green stain of moss and fluffy new snow.

I am not a photographer, but I do know design. With a little selective, creative investigating into all the nooks and crannies, I am betting you can even get the critics to agree, you have winter interest. Nature is by far the best designer and architect. She has laid out the invitation to photograph. In fact Gardening Gone Wild has a new photo contest. Maybe you can be inspired to post a winter garden.

Snow shots are wonderful and I have seen many in my travels around the country and world with visiting blogs this winter. So think white, and find the one shot GGW is looking for.

Find beauty in the ordinary and that which is small.  You will only see them this way in winter. Click any of the photos, they get nice and large. Prettier too.

This robin’s nest is mundane but it still has appeal; even more so encased in berries from the Japanese Lilac Tree.

The grass has its wintery moments. Lots of texture and subtle color gradations.

These berries are small but easy to find in a garden. But if you want interest that is bold and big….

just find a path and take a stroll. Better yet, just make one yourself. Leave a few footprints in the snow and you have a path.

We’ll see you again soon. Stop back for my GBBD magazine. I created my winter garden interest by design, but nature gives me a helping hand. So see you somewhere on the blogosphere tomorrow in another pretty winter garden.

If you want some good and serious information to consider when designing your winter landscape, Erica at The Home Outside is also a designer, and has listed some great tips on adding winter interest. Visit her post When the Snow Hits the Fan: Good Design Diverts Winter Disasters.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
This entry was posted in Animals, Birds, Blogging, Cardinals, Falls, Niagara Falls, photography, Skies, Trees, Water, Winter and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

63 Responses to Snowy Dunes at Niagara Falls

  1. Donna says:

    I marvel at the beauty of the falls in every season..lovely post before I call it a night…and I love finding winter interest is beautiful…

  2. Laurrie says:

    Wonderful uplifting post, and the pictures are worth lingering over. I like your chatty winter birds!

    • The birds were very accommodating, a few flew right up to the camera lens and hovered. I had on a 300 and could not focus that close. They would have been spectacular shots. The birds, when you can find them at the Falls are just like the squirrels. They are not afraid of people and come right up to you for food. I can not even get photos like this in my own garden at the feeder 30 feet away. The birds fly away when I go outside.

  3. One says:

    So many gorgeous photos; birds and sceneries. I love your amusing story too. It is really funny. The Black Capped Chickadee knew how to add colors for interest. Your snow shots of the rocks are great. I like the winter grass too. Too much good stuff in one post. I can’t quite digest.

  4. Dear Donna, Clarisse is adorable! You are right, Mother Nature provides wonderful winter interest with no help from us. Your photographs are stunning as usual. P x

  5. wiseacre says:

    Great set of photos. I’m jealous of your feathery friends and tickled pink to see photos of the falls. I used to go there a lot as a kid. I still believe winter is the best time to go see them. The colder the better. Jack frost does wonders with the mist.

  6. Bonnie says:

    You are right, there is a lot of beauty in the winter garden, you just have to get out and look for it. We had fireworks in our city last night. My hubby and I walked the 20 minute walk to them. Big snowflakes were falling but the temp was above 30, which is warm. It was a beautiful evening. Should have taken my camera!

  7. Beautiful!! I like the grasses photo the best. Also the chickadee and tufted titmouse. I’ve yet to see them here this winter. Not sure why that is!

  8. Carolyn♥ says:

    Clarisse has captured my heart! Oh my goodness she’s so cute! Your post is enchanting, Donna. A lovely Winter stroll.

  9. Donna, I must admit that I was surprised by the post dismissing the concept of winter interest in small gardens. You couldn’t have said it better: “Winter beauty…. is all around … in the softly fallen snow, in the crystallized ice, in the bulbs pushing through the moist soil, and in the rushing cold water….Could you not find these wonderful textures in your garden? The bark of trees, the cut of stone, the fall of water turned to ice. The green stain of moss and fluffy new snow.” Evidently these were missing, but not from your lovely post. It helps to have some cute birds as guides too. Carolyn

    • I am so for designing for winter too. It is often a boring season for gardens without structure, but even in gardens with drifts of perennials, if the plants are left standing for the wildlife you get double interest. It is a real day brightener to see the birds feeding on seed heads.

  10. p3chandan says:

    Such lovely scenes of the snow and great shots of the birds too!

  11. Absolutely gorgeous shots of the snow drifts!! 37 on a sunny winter day is tolerable 🙂 Loved all the bird pics. Having a design dilemma in my backyard; wish you could pop on over and give me your opinion. Paralysis by analysis again! Drives me nuts!! I can look at someone else’s yard and know just what to do, but sometimes I have trouble being objective in my own yard. It’s just a garden; not brain surgery, right 🙂

    • I do wish I could visit. I love what you are doing in your garden. Remember to put on a different hat when you are in your space. Look at it as the designer you are, not the owner you also are. It is hard to get in this frame of mind, but you approach design much more objectively wearing the designed cap.

  12. Christine B. says:

    I was a wee bit disappointed not to see an itty bitty barrel with someone in it going over the falls. Why I associate Niagara Falls with barrelling boaters, I’m not sure…. Looks cold there, and coming from an Alaskan, that’s a serious allegation;)

    No cardinals here, more’s the pity.

    Christine in Alaska, no grand falls/red birds

  13. dona says:

    You really live in a wonderful place: I envy you!
    I’m always amazed that in U.S.A. you can find such wild environments so close to towns!

    • I am only one block from the gorge trail. It is wonderful, especially in summer for hiking the trail. If the trees were not on our street, I could look down the road right into Canada’s back yard. I get a few glimpses through the trees, but no real view until I walk to the end of the block.

  14. Precious Donna! Breathtakingly beautiful too!! Lovely photos.

  15. Alistair says:

    Donna, such a beautiful and exciting place to live. You are inspiring me to make more of Winter than I presently do.

    • Enter the contest Alistair. It makes you see your garden in a different light and with a different eye. Getting a mood and sense of place is what both design and photography is all about. You garden is beautiful, so look for that winning shot. It helps you in your design too because you look at your garden though the lens and it adds more objectivity.

  16. TufaGirl says:

    Clarisse is adorable! I think you should add photographer to your list of accomplishments. The design eye is in every photograph you take.

    • Thank you so much. I need to be a better technical photographer. You should see how many different exposure I have. I am trying so hard to get the right lighting too, but when shooting animals, I think that is just luck.

  17. A most excellent post Donna. Your bird families are adorable and even Sylvester is a cutie! Your winter shots are gorgeous! And what is this you say about not being a photographer? You are a great photographer! Loved the walk around the Falls.

    • They came right up to me while I was sitting in my truck next to the woods. I sat there so long shooting, that they all got names. Hence the story. They basically reenacted it for me. One cardinal was like my narrator. She would not leave. And that squirrel almost climbed in the truck . I swore he was going to jump from the branch right in the window. No such luck at home. The garden is so small the birds do not feel safe. Plus I have have repeated hawk visits (attacks) and the birds are really wary.

  18. Phooey to those who say winter landscapes aren’t beautiful. Hooray for those who have learned to relish subtle and ephemeral beauty. I miss titmouses—titmice?—and cardinals. Such cheery little things.

  19. Karen says:

    Donna, wonderful post. The cardinal’s poses are adorable, they look so tame, I suppose they are just used to so many people, living in such a famous place. I can never get within 50′ of our cardinals. The scenery is so stunning, I really do hope to see the Falls some day…the gorge and the rainbows are amazing. Thank you for the tour and the lively narrative!

  20. Denise says:

    Wow, beautiful snow and the birds an squirrel are so cute!

    • I have tons of squirrel shots. They are such characters. I am posting them on GBBD, plus there was squirrel tragedy here at 664. My little friend Gilbert got killed by a red tailed hawk. I will be posting on him shortly.

  21. beautiful post Donna thanks, Frances

  22. lifeshighway says:

    Poor Chester… hang on buddy.

    You could get me to ALMOST like cold weather with your beautiful photography.


  23. I think that squirrel is taking a bow, don’t you? Beautiful shots, Donna, and I really envy you your location.

  24. Jennifer says:

    What a charming and funny post. You had me laughing out loud numerous times! Without a shadow of a doubt, there is lots of beauty in a winter landscape.

  25. Andrea says:

    Donna, you are not only an architect, Master Gardener, designer, photographer, you are a very good writer! I actually envy your style and photos. I might not be able to see snow in winter like this (in this lifetime), but your posts certainly filled-up my longing to see them, and kept me very informed. I have seen many waterfalls, but that icy falls really enthalled my spirit. Thanks so much Donna.

  26. A very enchanting place. All the snow and her friends remind me of Sleeping Beauty. Things covered with snow will awaken in spring and promises many beautiful things.

  27. I was just thinking about how tired I was of winter, and then I visited your blog and realized anew how beautiful winter can be, especially with fresh snow. It will be hard to appreciate it this week with highs in the single digits, but the 30s next weekend should feel wonderful! Thanks for the reminder to enjoy winter while it’s here. –Beth

  28. radha says:

    That was a lovely bird’s eye view we had through the post!! And great pictures too. Also thank you for dropping by at my blog.

  29. lula says:

    Dona, Absolutely magical!! beautiful images, and text.

  30. Wonderful celebration of winter. Very glad that birds have bad hair days too. And I agree, we need to celebrate and find the beauty in all the seasons we get, not just treat winter as something to suffer through until Spring arrives.

  31. Mac_fromAustralia says:

    Great post 🙂 Lovely photos.

  32. Linda G. says:

    Andrea suggested I check out this blog post, as I have recently uploaded a post about a trip to Niagara Falls on my blog. The falls look different each day you visit. Loved your photographs of the wildlife and what they had to chatter about. Your falls pictures are gorgeous!

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