Monday, January 13, 2014

Winter Gardening

My husband loves my garden in the winter because he can "see everything".  But I still like to have things to looks at in my garden even in the winter. It's not easy to enjoy your garden in winter. When it's too cold to go outside, and your beautiful flowers have all died off, your garden is pretty much a no-go zone.  In lieu of summer's blazing color, many gardeners brace themselves for a winter of gray and brown, if not flat-out white. However, there are some ways of enjoying your outside space even in the colder months.

A winter garden provides many benefits and is a great addition to every home. Many believe that gardening must cease once the first frost hits, but that simply is not true. There are several ways that gardeners can enjoy the wonders of gardening year round including the use of greenhouses, growing plants indoors with containers, and planting crops that do well in outside, cool temperatures.

A variety of plants may be grown during winter and gardeners that take advantage of these opportunities enjoy many benefits.  No matter if your winter is just a little chilly or bone-freezing cold, try these tips to brighten your landscape...

1. Foliage, evergreens and ornamental Plants: One ideal way to make the most of your garden in winter is to put in plants that thrive even in the cold. Most flowering plants can't deal with cold conditions, so opt for foliage plants instead. There are lots that have fabulous, eye-catching foliage. You can also bring in ornamental woodies. Dozens of woody shrubs and trees add colorful stems, berries and/or bark. Evergreens that do well in my Coastal Southern garden are osmanthus fragrans, loropetalum, and Magnolia. When I lived in Georgia NE of Atlanta Leland Cypress, Pine trees, junipers, and  flowering Quince did well in winter.

2. Room With a View: You can also enjoy your garden by making the most of the view from the window that overlooks it. Try to design your garden so that the view is not obscured. Plant lots of interesting shrubs and cut back or remove anything that obstructs your view. Then even on cold days you can sit by the window and look out.

3. Fabulous Florals: Even in cold temperatures you can still have flowers, but you need to choose plants that can survive your local conditions. Cyclamen, snowdrops, pansies and primulas/primrose are just a few of the flowers that can cope even in snowy weather. Check out your local plant center for flowering plants that can cope in your local climate.


4. Plant for Wildlife: One way to get some color and something to view in your garden is to plant things in your garden to attract birds. Feeders, water source and roosting boxes will encourage birds in your yard. But planting berry producing plants for birds to eat and evergreens to provide protection from predators and from cold windy weather is another way to encourage birds in your yard.

5. Visit Gardens for Inspiration:  Pay your local public gardens a visit and you'll get lots of ideas about what to grow. They may even produce lists of the plants that you'll see in the winter season. Some gardens also sell plants, so you'll be able to pick up those plants that you most like.

6. Plan for other Seasons: The winter period is also a great time to start planning what you want to do with your garden in the coming seasons. Perhaps you want to completely redesign your garden and landscape it. Or you'd just like to plant something new in your flowerbeds. Whether your gardening ambitions are big or small, winter is a great time to note the 'bones' of your garden. You'll soon come up with some inspiration. Studying seed catalogs in the winter is also a great way to get ideas and spend cold winter days.

7. Preparation and Maintenance: Winter is also a useful time to prepare your garden for the spring and summer. Even in winter there are usually some jobs to be done. You won't need to cut the grass, but there are still trees to be pruned, compost to be spread and beds to be dug (as long as the ground isn't frosty). Get your garden into good shape for the coming season.

8. Hardscaping rules: In the uncluttered conditions of a winter garden, elements like the play of light and shadow and the curve of a walkway take on increased importance. Take advantage of this time to analyze the design of your landscape.

9. Plant colorful containers: Bring them close to a window where you can easily enjoy them from indoors. In areas with moderate winters, plants like heucheras, autumn fern, sedums and pansies keep right on going. In colder areas, conifers will accept the responsibility of colder weather. Before you plant, know how cold your plants and pots will go. Clay pots will not take to freezing weather.

10. Painting and Photos: There is one more way you can enjoy your garden during the winter. If you have some artistic abilities try painting your garden when it is at the height of it's beauty or try four season paintings of your garden. Painting is not my talent but I do enjoy taking photos of my garden and the birds that visit my garden. With the right camera they photos can be enlarged and framed. I've been lucky enough to have some of my garden photos show up on local TV in two cities!

Winter can seem a dull time of year for your garden, but with the right choice of plants and a little planning, you can make the most of that precious outdoor space. There is still much to enjoy even when it's cold, so get some gardening books visit some local gardens and start planning your perfect garden.