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What to do on These Winter Days

I was walking in Ault Park, taking photos and thinking it was perhaps not my best idea. Coffee was calling my name as was my warm, cozy office. But I didn’t want to miss anything in the gardens, so I sauntered on. A gentleman, who also looked a bit perturbed about the cold weather, asked what I could possibly be photographing in the middle of winter. “Nothing’s in bloom,” he pointed out. 

Those who don’t garden or are new to gardening can often feel that way. Why bother looking outside or walking about the garden in winter? What’s there to see? There’s plenty to enjoy, if you planned for a garden of winter interest. For one, I have a great flurry of bird activity thanks to my standing pollinator plants whose blooms transition to seedheads: winter food for the birds. Some early mornings the grasses are sparkling with a dusting of frost and other days they’re gently swaying in the breeze. The structure of some plants really shines in the winter. Rattlesnake master, which I always enjoy seeing in the gardens, looks particularly attractive in the winter: especially when it’s sporting little snowcaps.

In the winter I take inventory of what needs to be planted come spring. Open areas in the garden, that I know are not the result of defoliated Asclepias, are noted and plans are made to acquire plants for the vacancies. I can see where more pine straw will be needed, where winter weeds are settling in, and where there’s not enough color, structure, or movement in the garden.  I’m also making note to tackle the wonderfully vigorous mountain mint on a warmer day. I adore this plant, almost as much as the bees it attracts in staggering numbers, but it’s vigorous and appears to grow in the winter. It may be, of all the plants we have added to our extensive pollinator garden, the only one that calls for extra maintenance.

If you don’t have anything interesting in your garden or landscape now, I ask you why? Why invest in a home and a yard that only interests you part of the year? Why rely on the same old plant offering that looks the same season-to-season? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a garden, a landscape, that evolves and changes to reflect the seasons. Why not have plants that attract pollinators in the summer and supports the birds through winter?

Share your garden thoughts and questions with me. I’d love to hear from you!

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