The Winter Garden

This post is all about appreciating the winter garden. I read an interesting article today on one of my favourite blogs, Garden Rant, entitled “The Myth of Winter Interest“. Now, far be in from me to dispute anything written by the esteemed Ranter Elizabeth Licata, so I’ll just express here a different perspective.

I LOVE to watch my garden grow. Pretty soon, I’ll be posting new pics of Spring shoots and the various things I’ll do to ready the garden for this new growth. But in the meantime, there is lots to see and do in the winter. Admittedly, here in coastal BC our climate is such that getting close to the subjects in question is usually pretty easy. Our two “Arctic outflow” spells were short-lived and sunny, leaving us little if any snow, and temperatures hardly cold enough to qualify as “cold” according to most of the country.

Get Out Your Camera

I suggest that the one of the best ways to really appreciate your winter garden is with a camera. With a camera, you can walk around looking for things to photograph. That means you’ll begin to see thing you didn’t know were there. Like this: (from last Spring, a surprise asparagus I’d grown from seed but thought had died.)

Asparagus that I grew from seed in
Asparagus that I grew from seed
Dryopteris affinis ‘Cristata’–you can just see the stems of the fronds radiating out the sides, this is the crown with new growth ready to burst.

Or the crown of this Dryopteris affinis ‘Cristata–Crested wood fern; looks more like some Amazonian spider!

With a camera, you don’t even have to go outside to see fun things:

With a camera you’ll find yourself looking with fresh eyes–almost barren spaces viewed on your computer screen will give you a new chance to see the shape of your trees and shrubs, the presence or absence of structure, whether you have too much or too little evergreen, what areas could be enhanced with art or containers…

Which brings me to the second of two great winter activities–

Review Your Design, based on what the garden looks like in winter. You can’t do that unless you have a really good look, and do it frequently. Even though not much is growing right now in much of the Northern hemisphere, that doesn’t mean changes aren’t happening. Take that rotten squirrel for example. This morning I had lots of rose hips on that Westerland rose, purposely not pruned off so there was colour there all winter long. Now, not so much. Much as I like my garden to invite local fauna, I have a bias against some local fauna, mainly rodents. Do I want to encourage their presence? Will letting them eat the rose hips (as though I could stop them…) help keep them away from the bird feeders?

So if it’s not too cold, or too wet, or too snow-bound, tour your outdoor spaces frequently, check out changes, take your camera (and take LOTS of pics–they don’t have to be gallery-quality!), and enjoy your winter garden. And winter gardening. And then see if you agree with me or with Elizabeth.

Post Script: Here is a follow-up article by fellow Garden Ranter, Evelyn Hadden.


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