Thursday, February 6, 2014

Winter Gardens: Splendor in the Snow

Gardens in Winter

There is astonishing beauty to be found in Winter Gardens. 

I was yet again reminded of this looking out to my Garden State home’s garden rooms.

I am transfixed by the sun hitting the leaves of the Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) as they stand guard around the water garden fountain. 
The sun makes them positively shimmer.  

The water fountain captures the snow in geometric patterns, as does the parterre.
The urn atop the fountain is a snow cone of a winter tiara.

I admire the Red stems of the Red Twig Dogwood (Cornus sericea) and the Red bark of the Coral Bark Maple (Acer palmatum ‘Sango-kaku’) that together mark the arbor in winter. 

Their red-color displays against the white of the snow are a show-stopper. 

The Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellate) is remarkable in that its 
pussywillow-looking flower jackets capture the sunlight too – their fuzzy robes sparkle. 

The herb garden glitters at night with little solar lights dancing on the white snow and garden statues.
During the day, the rosemary, sage and sedum heads peek out from the snow with their pretty stems and seed heads.  

The moon and lights twinkle on the garden's snowscapes.

The thing here is that all this beauty was designed. Planned.
As a garden designer, I wanted the garden to knock us out with beauty in every season. 
It delivers.

When planning your garden designs, be sure to include a layered mix of conifers, evergreen shrubs, trees, and perennials. The annuals are just the punch of summer color here in the Northeast.

Also be sure to add garden hardscape and ornamental elements, including art, 
A garden client's Alice in Wonderland sculpture is indeed happy in her wonder-land
bird baths; structure - as in arbors, pergolas and walkways and parterres; rocks, stones; landscaped land – meaning hills or swales and steps.
Snow brings lacy patterns to the gardens especially as it forms ribbons of white on the hardscapes.

Not so much lawn.

Think destination. Think a focal point where your eyes lead you.

These are the “bones” of a good garden design.

Also, be sure to add a bird feeder or two.  It not only helps the birds but it makes for a winter aerial show as the birds flock to the seed or suet.  

Did you ever see the robins swarm fruits and berries on your hollies and cotoneasters?  Wow.

And if you love flowering plants so much that you must have them in winter, there is plenty to choose from.  I use a lot of winter blooming camellias,
    hellebores, and 
Paper Bush (Edgeworthia chrysantha) to name a few. 

Winter Wonder in the Garden

The magnolia’s seemingly spindly branches managed to hold a bricklayer’s pile of snow and yet not yield to the weight. 

Unlike the Arborvitae (Latin for Tree of Life) Thuja occidentals
arborvitaes looked like dragons or bears swaying to get inside

During Monday’s snowstorm – it looked like the conifers were swaying in toward the window – looking for all the world like some snow-strapped animals or creatures from a Hobbit film.
Can you see the face here?

They bowed in half with the weight of the snow. 
I did knock the snow off most of the branches especially in anticipation of the next, ice storm but you must be mindful. The plants need the water, too.

As did the cherry laurel. This was the first time I’ve seen these evergreen shrubs laid low by snow. 
They looked like ballerinas in repose...

As I was posting the beauty in the winter garden images, I was suddenly reminded that my garden friend, Suzy Bales, shares my love of the winter garden. 
In fact, Suzy wrote a fabulous book about it. The Garden in Winter: Plant for Beauty and Interest in the Quiet Season.    

A few years back when the book was first published, I wrote a book review for The Garden in Winter for a gardening column in The Two River Times. 

In looking up Suzy’s book, I see another garden friend’s book: The Garden in Winter, by Rosemary Verey  This book celebrates flowering winter plants. Yes!

For those of you who just can’t bear not seeing flowers in the winter garden, consider these plants:

“Rosa chinensis, Viola, Bergenia, Anemone, and Cyclomen, bloom intermittently throughout the winter, and there are "characteristic" winter-bloomers such as many types of bulbs, Camellias, Arbutus, and Buddleja.”

Don’t be a Scaredy Cat. Don’t be afraid of Winter

At lunch last week, my first book editor and I were discussing how the weather news media uses the language of war to describe seasonal weather!

So aggressive…. And climate change, notwithstanding -- it's Winter. 

While one must be prudent and driving conditions are certainly to be considered – and seniors need to be especially mindful, there is also a winter bias we must recognize and work to avoid.

Have fun.  Remember, many travel to winter holiday resorts…
Engage in winter sports: ice-skating, sleigh riding, snow ball fights.  When is the last time you saw folks out enjoying the winter? 
Winter foods and drinks enhance the sensuality of winter.

Take winter walks.  Look at nature. Observe. Winter trees, especially tree groves, offer unparalleled, artful patterns.
And there are few things more dramatic and inspiring than a winter's sky. 
Share the beauty.

You will be astonished by the romance of winter.  (Dream Dr. Zhivago or The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe)

Embrace the Splendor of the Winter Snow. 

And know that it is like a spa treatment for your garden plants. 

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry that Google Blogger is not allowing me to post part of this story :( I've tried several times -- and will try again later when perhaps Google repairs the issue. sigh...