Garden Notebook January/February

Winterberry Holly

Winter conjures images of a grey bleak landscape.   The growing season has come to an end and our garden lush with green foliage, blooms, fruit and vegetables have long faded into the brilliant color of fall and further into fond memories where one usually thinks of hunkering down for the winter.   Stored are the mowers, wheelbarrows, blowers, trimmers, trowels and shovels as we start fires, brew tea, simmer stew and bundle up for winter.  I view winter like I do spring where I study plants that offer interest the season holds. For example, dried mop heads of hydrangea blossoms, berries on holly, fragrance from witch-hazel in flower or the discovery of forgotten bulbs poking through the ground in anticipation of spring.

Daffodils growing through English Ivy

Hellebore Bloom January in my Garden

This time of year is a good time for reflection in the garden as well as planning for the next growing season.  I start with evaluating the garden with a critical eye;  looking for gaps in planting beds that need filling, removing dead wood and pruning back shrubs and trees for thinning and shaping; thriving on the successes and learning from the failures the prior season held.

Another important aspect of the garden that is often overlooked is the structure of the garden.   Often referred to as the skeleton, structure is what gives your garden definition, character, and strength. Whether it is an evergreen hedge or groundcover, a paved terrace or arbor, a stone wall or wood fence, these elements provide the backdrop for a flower bed, screen unwanted views, provide privacy, create open spaces or intimate sitting areas, anchor the ground-plane and are the backbone to the garden in winter.  After all the leaves have fallen and cleared away these structures are what hold the garden together.

A Simple Foundation Planting

A Gate Arbor

Whereas many people find January and February uneventful times in the garden, I am scurrying around with transplanting’s, pruning, mulching, fertilizing, weeding, infill planting and detailing.    I love the crisp air and am inspired to keep in motion to stay warm and work up a hearty appetite.   It is a great time to start a new garden or renew an older one.

This year is special for me as we are building a new garden to be shown in the Winston Salem Junior League’s Tour of Homes.  We are honored and excited as this will be the first garden in the tour.    Wish us luck and more importantly good weather!

JALA Garden Progress

Here’s to winter work setting the stage for a beautiful growing season. Cheers and Happy Gardening!


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