Winter garden – a bird’s eye view

“Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own.” – Charles Dickens

It was one of those days. I was cold, out of my favorite tea bags, and quite frankly well on my way to being a grouchy gardener.

Then I looked outside. The overnight snow had created a fresh canvas of white across the garden. It clung to the leaves and fence posts highlighting the shapes and heights of the winter landscape.

As I continued to gaze out the window, I watched a few does stir under the thicket where they nestle when the temperature drops. I noticed birds fluttering among the tree branches and shrubs.

Still feeling a bit grouchy, I grabbed my hat and gloves, called for the pup, and out we went. Yes, it was cold, but if the wildlife could enjoy this February day in the garden, so could I.

A summer garden is bursting with color and fullness that can be distracting of the structural elements. The bare bones of winter allow us to see the skeleton or year-round fundamental shapes.

Now is the time to observe and make notes. What projects do you want to tackle throughout the upcoming seasons?

I am happy with my fencing. It creates a backdrop for the beds and keeps the pup from running wild in the neighborhood. I have an area where I am starting forsythia to act as a screen and give me an early shot of yellow in the spring. It is still tiny, but I will be patient and it will grow.

I have boxwoods growing in containers. I like them but would like to add more height. I do this with trellises during the summer, but I would like something more permanent.

The deer have always had a familiar path around my house, but it is incredibly muddy and worn this year. I can’t control the deer, so I must think of ways to mitigate the mud. Since the path is close to the house, do I add stepping-stones? I know from past efforts that blocking their travel highway won’t work, and with the heavy traffic grass seed or ground cover takes a beating.

I have had some luck with mini mondo grass and ajuga growing here. They are tough plants. I will nurture them and hope they continue to spread among the new stones.

I still spy birds in the treetops. Imagine what they see, the entire layout of our properties. The gardens, the house, the driveway, and all the connecting paths. This is the view you want to have when planning new projects or evaluating changes.

While this clear view of the gardens is available, take pictures, sketch it out, make notes, to help you remember what spots need plantings and attention in late August. Being able to compare January and July photos is comforting to me. Knowing that as gardeners, we take our canvas and create ever-changing living landscape views is a boost to my grouchy winter self.

For now, I have limbs to pick up, and soon I will rake away leftover leaves and look for the earliest of spring shoots appearing.

The birds are hungry. Many of their food supply sources are covered with ice and snow during the winter. We plant to attract and care for them in the summer, leave dry foliage to shelter them in the winter, so please consider feeding them in the cold winter months.