One of the aspects of the season that I have especially come to love is winter’s light and shadow. The quality of light is different in the winter. It’s less intense, softer and more diffused.
What started as a mild season, almost a non-winter winter, has turned into a “Snow-mageddon” here. It’s been snowstorm after snowstorm, temperatures so frigid that it’s dangerous to go outside and depressingly grey skies. Even winter-lovers were having a hard time defending this weather. I must admit that the slight enthusiasm I had mustered for the season was rapidly disappearing.
And then I got an unexpected gift -- a collection of emailed pictures from a friend’s treks in the woods. (Followers of this blog will probably guess that it was Sandy Defoe who sent the pictures; unlike so many of us, she lives for the winter months.) She had stumbled upon a field of hoar frost and she was euphoric over her rare find.
I realized something this week. What I see in the winter is significantly different than what I see in the summer. I know that seems painfully obvious, but bear with me. In the summer, I spend much of my day outside either on the deck playing with the grandkids or tending the garden. Then, I see our lush backyard and the woods behind it. In the winter however, I spend hours in the kitchen, standing at the sink and gazing out the window on the front yard. Although we are putting in a prairie, right now the view from the front is much more urban in nature -- sidewalks, streets, cars and houses. It isn’t a calming view.
Thinking about where you see the outdoors is the first step in transforming a rather blah winter landscape into a masterpiece. So, how do you change an ordinary planting into an extraordinary winter scene?
In winter everything gets stripped down to its very essence and becomes sculptural. Details and views hidden by summer leaves are revealed. Structure, form and the quality of light and atmosphere become the stars of the show. By using the cues that nature gives us, we can fill our yards with winter beauty. “
Welcome back to our virtual tour of some of the world’s outstanding -- and unusual -- botanical gardens. For this trip, I thought we would start right here in the United States with a visit to a garden that is one of my personal favorites, the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona.
Just when quarantining was starting to get to me, I discovered a way to travel the world from the safety of my favorite chair -- I found a treasure trove of virtual tours. With a few clicks of my mouse, I joined a Smithsonian tour of Egyptian Heritage Sites, rode an elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower and came face-to-face with the wildlife of Antarctica. Best of all though, were the breathtaking botanical gardens I meandered through. If you’re ready for a break from the humdrum pace of everyday life, then join me as we stroll through ten of the world’s best. We’ll explore five of my favorites this week and five more next week. I hope you’ll join us for all ten.
Here in the Midwest, with its frigid days and frequent snowstorms, the winter months are the perfect time to immerse yourself in nature. No, you can’t head to the garden to putter, but you can curl up with a good book -- or a magazine -- or a blog -- or even a stack of seed catalogs to expand your horizons, learn something new and get your nature fix.
I’m always searching for something new to dig into and through the years, recommendations from friends and from professionals in the field have led me to some outstanding reads. This year I asked the staff at Embassy Landscape Group to share some of their wintertime favorites.
Not surprisingly, they’ve suggested some great choices.
One of the problems with winter garden maintenance is that many best practices are often dependent on location, weather conditions and plant species. While this makes it difficult to provide hard and fast rules for everyone, there are a few wintertime maintenance dos and don’ts that hold true regardless of where you live. To help the newer gardeners this winter, we’ve put together a short list of some important winter