One of the first things I do each morning before getting out of bed is check the weather report for the day. I’ve been hoping for a white Christmas, but the forecast hasn’t looked too promising as we get within a week of the holiday. So it felt like Christmas morning for me when my weather app was showing “light snow showers” and a wintry landscape in the background. I jumped out of bed a little faster than normal and looked out the window to find the garden slightly frosted, but without snow. Not a single flurry danced in the air. Another lesson learned: the most accurate current weather forecast exists right outside the window.
After getting breakfast and coffee, I ventured out into the garden with my camera. The overcast skies started to break a bit, revealing slivers of blue among the clouds, reflected in the rivers of frost on my car’s windshield. The thermometer hovered at 26F, but it felt considerably warmer in the still air.
In a sign that the ground is finally starting to freeze, the top inch of compost in the more recently added areas of the garden assumed a fractured texture that lightly crunched underfoot. I’ll be very happy when the ground finally freezes, serving as a deterrent to the squirrels that seem determined to steal my spring bulb show.
|Weigela florida ‘Variegata’|
|Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Snow Queen’|
Some deciduous shrubs continue to hold onto their dried leaves, creating curled foundations from which frost crystals grow.
|Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gracillimus’|
Ornamental grasses have taken center stage, giving me my seasonal reminder why I planted so many of them. Unless we have a major ice storm, these seed heads will remain upright the entire winter, curing the garden of its dearth of curves and motion.
|Abies koreana ‘Cis’|
|Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’|
|Thuga occidenntalis ‘Emerald Green’|
Frosty evergreens provide brushstrokes of color in the landscape. For some reason, evergreens are the last thing I look at when shopping for plants and never truly appreciate them until winter.
|Aronia arbutifolia ‘Brilliantisima’|
|Callicarpa dichotoma ‘Early Amethyst’|
Brightly-colored berries dot the garden with a festivity befitting of the season. Early in the month, I thought about cutting branches off the Aronia and Callicarpa when I was creating holiday arrangements for our indoor decorations. I’m glad I decided against it, for these fruits will persist outdoors long after our indoor decorations have been put away for the season.
|Geranium cantabrigiense ‘Biokovo’|
Even herbaceous perennials and annual still provide beauty in the garden, long after the growing season is over. I do a bit of cleanup in the garden beds in fall, especially plants that showed signs of disease in late summer.
Most of my garden stands during winter, for good practical reasons. It’s healthier for the plants because the decaying stems and foliage as well as fallen leaves from the trees all protect the crown of the plant from excess moisture in winter. Wildlife finds a standing winter garden more sustaining and habitable.
But most of all, my garden is still standing because it fills me with awe, even while sleeping.