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Take a Winter Stroll Through the Garden

No matter what the weather, there is always something to enjoy outdoors during the winter months, if we remember to plant for winter interest in spring and fall. Let’s bundle up, go outside, and take a walk around Dee's garden.

Contributors: Dee Nash

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 in my garden--too long to hunker down and hibernate until spring. So let’s bundle up, go outside, and take a walk around my garden. We’ll get some 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. An Arctic Fire® red twig dogwood shrub sits between dormant roses and two peach trees. Eventually, I’d like to have three of these shrubs to form a bright red hedge that I can enjoy through the winter months.

Many plants, like crabapples, chokecherries, beautyberries and hollies, have attractive fruit that persists in winter. Because this winter has been mild, my Black Lace® elderberry is still showing its wine-colored berries. Like all elderberries, this one isn’t too fussy about soil or moisture, and neither is its cousin, Black Beauty, another cultivar with dark purple foliage.

Back inside, the desk in my home office sits in front of a large picture window where I can 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 with switch grasses. There are so many pretty grasses to choose from now, some with blue foliage like 'Blue Paradise' little bluestem or red foliage like 'Cheyenne Sky' switch grass and others that produce beautiful plumes in the fall like 'Desert Plains' fountain grass.

No matter what the weather, there is always something to enjoy out in the garden during the winter months, if we remember to plant for winter interest in spring and fall. Take a walk outside today and think about where you could grow a shrub, tree or grass to cheer you while winter does its worst.

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