Studying the Winter Garden
I remember my early years as a gardener and the feelings of gloom and boredom that crept in with the winter months. As a novice gardener I mistakenly equated winter with the end of the garden season. Now that I am a seasoned gardener I know better.
Research, research, research. Winter is a wonderful time to hone our garden skills. We should learn all we can about new plants and garden design by reading as many books and magazines as we can get our hands on. It is blissfully self-indulgent to say, Today all I shall do is read garden books! No weeding, watering or plant divisions to call you away to the garden.
This garden vignette would be far less effective sans the larger planter taking center stage. It provides a focal point in the spring, fall and winter months. In the summer, it is often obstructed by a lush planting.
Study the winter garden before setting pencil to paper to design a garden. It is so easy to get swept away with flowers and foliage. I think that is why most of us get hooked on gardening- the flowers! But if we want to be more than good garden designers we must design for all the seasons- which can be tricky. It may tie designing for continuous bloom in the garden as a new gardener’s toughest lesson to learn. By studying the winter garden we learn about structure, flow, scale, texture, and the importance of adding non-green materials to the landscape.
Even on the coldest winter day a well designed garden will draw us in and embrace us. A well designed garden has good bones. The foundation of the garden is not in annuals and perennials. Rather, it is in its shape, form, flow of the beds, inclusion of trees and shrubs and non-green items. Without these design elements, even an expertly arranged collection of annuals and perennials will fall a bit short of a success. I liken it to cooking. The perfect sauce needs an equally impressive meat or pasta to make the meal a success!