I sit here with the patio garden in my peripheral vision as it vanishes beneath a rising tide of drifting snow. A front of frigid air is slowly pushing a storm system across the Midwest. Since I woke this morning, we’ve lost 20 degrees and the forecast calls for another 30 degree drop before tomorrow morning. Truly dangerous kinds of cold, for animals and plants alike.
It’s the type of day that beckons a blanket, hot coffee and a good book, or perhaps some daydreaming about a garden that will break its dormancy in due time.
The garden lacks dimension today. Winter’s frozen pall has hidden the depth and texture that just a day ago drew me outside. Melting snow compressed with each footstep and glistened as the thermometer rose above freezing. Remnants of last season’s garden poked through the snow, moved by a light breeze. The winter sun arches low in the southern sky, so even at midday the dried stems and leaves were illuminated from the side and threw long, dancing shadows across a white canvas.
Gardeners often debate if a garden should be cleaned up in autumn or spring. I fall somewhere in the middle of the continuum, leaving those plants standing that offer winter interest. Grasses and flowers with persistent seed heads survive the pruner’s sentence. In winters where we have little snow cover, these skeletons of last year’s landscape blend inconspicuously into the soil and mulch. Yesterday was one of those days where they come alive — combined with sun, the sparkle of snow and some pieces of art — and justify their four month stay of execution.
As today’s snow continues to climb the sides of the gazebo and cover the garden, I am thankful for days like yesterday that trigger memories of the garden past and rekindle my dreams of its rebirth just around the corner.