Since the winter dormancy is upon us, many of you are looking back to garden successes and failures planning for better gardens next spring. Some even blog about those successes and failures. Do you look at your garden to wish Winter away because there is little worth admiring in the garden at this time of year?
As a designer, I have had to design large gardens over Winter for early Spring installation. Some of these gardens took all Summer to complete. Winter is a great time to take a look at what needs improvement for Spring and what could add some interest during that “down” time of Winter. Gardens in cold climates are designed to look good in Winter as well, even having conifers to decorate with and for the season. The image above has up-lights that make that icy Viburnum have winter character on cold Winter nights.
I certainly admire how gardeners are reading their seed catalogs, gardening magazines and books, but I have always looked to Winter as MY dormancy. A time to relax in a similar way the plants are staying warm and snoozing away the coldest season. Time for fewer thoughts on gardening, well actually landscaping. But I make sure the garden looks nice in Winter.
Under all that snow and ice, the perennial plants are biding time until the Spring rains awaken them to start their job of producing new plants by seed or other biological preference. The evergreens are doing their job as shelter for birds and Winter garden interest. I am doing no garden jobs, just watching the birds flutter about and the pretty snow coat the conifers. But what about winter dormancy? It is doing its job quietly in the background, working hard underground, protecting above.
My tiny 2016 garden is shown above in a fluffy white snowfall last week, then again from Spring 2015 in bloom. Those large terracotta-colored pots hold perennials like phlox, monarda, coreopsis, and miniature goldenrod, bulbs, and self-seeders which next Spring will start to grow tall and look similar to the 2015 images below. Under a mulch of Fall leaves, those perennials are just starting to leaf out in our very mild Winter.
My garden goes untouched during Winter letting Fall’s leaves mulch the garden. The only thing I do is make sure the visiting birds are fed, watered and safe. Plants can wait until Spring.
The front garden, shown in both Spring and early Summer below, also goes through major growth with much of it sprouting and blooming without much assistance or gardening effort. The biggest job is trimming the boxwood. The plants between the boxwood just do their own thing with occasional thinning or cutting back. You can see below I let the penstemon, Veronica, and Salvia all go to seed.
There is a lot of perennials and self-seeding annuals in a tightly packed garden. I do quite a few posts with garden tips, like how to control plants tightly packed each season. Check out the posts from 2015 to see my garden change through the year. Each month a whole “new” cast of players appears.
So what about you? Winter interest in your plans? How about showing your winter garden, then contrasting it to early Spring. Maybe that will inspire you in either direction. Maybe it will inspire others.