Seasons

Winter beauty

Rather than succumb to winter negativity, which is about all one hears on news and sees on social media, choose to step outside, breath in the crisp winter air, and enjoy some winter beauty.

Blue skies, different hues of beech leaves, the texture of bark, and deep shadows on fresh snow join to create stunning winter scenes.

Winter color.

Winter color.

Shadows on the snow.

Shodows

Shadows

One place woodpeckers roam when not vying for space on the suet feeders.

Woodpeckers were here

Woodpeckers were here

What’s missing from the snow? Animal tracks. Usually, following a fresh snow, the woods and open areas are crossed with animal tracks. But the snow is deep this year, keeping all but the lightest of squirrels from venturing far, and holding deer deep in the woods where groves of mountain laurel offer some fodder and protection from the elements.

winter woods absent of deer tracks

winter woods absent of deer tracks

There’s no doubt that winter can be difficult. It takes a lot of work to keep driveways and sidewalks clear, and snow-clearing tasks can definitely become tedious.

Winter exercise tools

Winter exercise tools

But it’s winter … and I’m a glass-half-full kind of girl.

In winter, a shovel and snow shoes are my exercise tools, and snow is the blanket that protects my gardens.

I know, that as temperatures warm come spring, and snow slowly melts into the earth, plants will awaken from their winter sleep.

Now, is the time to enjoy winter beauty.

 

 

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A snowy day

In case you haven’t heard … southeastern New England, including the section of Connecticut where I live and garden, is having a snowy day.

A little storm, fondly called the blizzard of 2015, moved in last night and is expected to continue into this afternoon. So far 18″ to 24″ of powdery snow is covering our landscape and, as of 10:30 am, it’s still snowing. Drifting makes it difficult to determine exactly how much snow we’ve received, but snowdrifts range from 24″ to 36″ against the exterior doors. Not too big a deal, this snow is dry and easy to move; we’ve had much worse … namely the blizzard of 2013 that dropped nearly 4 feet of snow on us.

I’m glad I grabbed some garden planning photos before this storm hit. There’s quite a difference in how one of our front yard gardens looked a few days ago …

Front view toward our nearest neighbor, before the blizzard of 2015.

Front view toward our nearest neighbor, before the blizzard of 2015.

and how it looks this morning.

Front yard garden during the blizzard of 2015.

Front yard garden during the blizzard of 2015.

It’s tough to add to a garden design when its features are buried under snow! Since I regularly shoot photos of our entire landscape, I have plenty to work from as I continue my garden dreaming in January.

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Gardening begins in January

Anyone who thinks that gardening begins in the spring and ends in the fall is missing the best part of the whole year. For gardening begins in January with the dream. – Josephine Nuese. This quote, which I first saw on a Hudson Valley Seed Library Facebook post, speaks to me. Like other gardeners in northern regions, gardening in my Zone 6b south-central Connecticut region begins in January.

Actually, for me, gardening never ends. Though I let my gardening brain rest a bit through the end-of-year holidays, ideas and designs for the upcoming year are never buried so deeply that they are suspended until spring. Serious review of the frozen landscape commences when dawn breaks on the New Year.

As I peruse the views from inside our home, I note which outdoor features become highlights in the winter landscape. The less favorable go onto a needs attention list, later prioritized as higher- and lower-level projects for the upcoming months. Views of neighboring property always become a high priority on this list; I continuously plan plantings to increase our winter privacy.

As viewed from the front windows, the house nearest to ours is somewhat blocked by existing native shrubs and trees plus those we’ve added over the years. Two existing mountain laurels are fenced to prevent deer browsing. Both beech trees – the forward one plus the one partially blocking the nearest house – are existing native plantings we’ve encouraged to grow. The use of existing native trees and shrubs makes sense for environmental, design, and budgetary reasons in that native plantings suite native insects, birds and soils, native trees and shrubs help match the gardens and property to surrounding woodlands, and existing natives are free – they are perfect ‘right plant, right place’ plantings.

To compliment the existing natives we’ve added a pink dogwood (Cornus florida ‘Rubra’), a juniper (Juniperus chinensis ‘Blue Point’) hidden by the larger laurel in this photo, and two very small American holly (Ilex opaca) transplants (position noted by blue arrows but not view-able in the photo) that I hope will eventually grow into stately evergreen trees.

Mountain laurel circled in green, American holly locations noted by blue arrows, dogwood by red arrow, globe picea circled in blue, leucothoe circled in yellow, leatherleaf circled in orange, pieris circled in white, picea 'Sanders Blue' circled in pink

Mountain laurel circled in green, American holly locations noted by blue arrows, dogwood by red arrow, globe picea circled in blue, leucothoe circled in yellow, leatherleaf circled in orange, pieris circled in white, picea ‘Sanders Blue’ circled in pink

To bring more greenery into this winter view I’ve added a globe spruce (Picea pungens glauca globosa, circled in blue) that is still not sure it likes this setting, a leatherleaf viburnum (Viburnum rhytidophyllum circled in orange), Leucothoe axillaris (circled in yellow), a Pieris japonica ‘Mountain Fire’ (circled in white) and, most recently, two slow-growing pyramidal spruce (Picea glauca ‘Sanders Blue’ circled in pink) to the mix.

A closer-up view from a slightly different angle better shows  the still small evergreens. Though leatherleaf viburnum and leucothoe carry deer-resistant claims, the deer browsing our yard browse both during winter months. But both plants bounce back pretty easily each spring, so I tend to leave them unprotected. Also, since the taller ornamental grasses have outlived their usefulness in this location, crowding many of the deciduous shrubs and trees, I plan to move them to a different location this spring.

One view of the front yard from inside.

One view of the front yard from inside.

As the native and new plantings continue to grow, this portion of the front will be amply ‘greened’ for winter viewing.

By contrast, the opposite side of the front yard view still lacks winter greenery. Because of the upward slope there is no need to block views of distant neighbors, but a few low-growing conifers or other evergreen foliage would compliment the existing beech trees and ground-level moss.

The view of the opposite side of the front yard from inside.

The view of the opposite side of the front yard from inside.

The main issue in this area is ledge running very close to the surface, which makes digging adequate planting holes difficult. Still, how and where to incorporate winter greenery to this side of the front yard is worth some winter pondering, and this is one of the best aspects of winter gardening.

…For gardening begins in January with the dream …

 

 

 

 

 

 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2015 Joene Hendry