Keep Winter Interesting
We never know what winter will bring. Sometimes, it surprises us by slowly sneaking in with higher-than-normal temperatures and bright, sunny days, which fool us into thinking we live in California. Other years, it rushes in all blustery and full of snow. Either way, winter lasts the same three to four months, too long to hunker down and hibernate until spring. Instead, let’s bundle up, go outside, and take a walk about our gardens. We’ll get much needed exercise, replenish our Vitamin D, and recharge our psyches.
Tree bark, lichens and moss stand out as I walk my property nearly everyday. Around each turn is an interesting tree or shrub. Three crabapples planted up on the hill provide winter food for Cedar Waxwings and robins, and pure pleasure for me as I climb to the upper pasture. In front of my house, I have evergreen hollies with bright green foliage and red berries. One Red Twig Dogwood sits between dormant roses and two peach trees. Eventually, I’d like to have three of these shrubs form a bright, red hedge. Red twig dogwoods are grown primarily for winter interest although a newer cultivar, Pucker Up!™ has interesting, puckered leaves too. That’s one I’d like to try.
Many plants, like crabapples, chokecherries, beautyberries and hollies, have attractive fruit. Because this winter has been mild, my Black Lace™ elderberry is still sporting wine-colored berries. Like all elderberries, this one isn’t fussy about soil or moisture, and neither is its cousin, Black Beauty™, another cultivar with dark purple foliage.
Back inside, I write near a large window where I look out upon the back garden. In January, there is still plenty to see. Grasses sway in the wind tightly holding onto their seed tufts. I’ve become especially enamored lately with switch grasses. Now we can grow selections with bluer foliage or, those that turn brighter red or yellow in the fall like ‘Cheyenne Sky’.
No matter what the weather, there is always something to enjoy during the winter months, if we remember to plant for winter in spring and fall. Take a walk outside today and think about where you could place a shrub, tree or grass to cheer you while winter does its worst.
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