Inspiration for the Winter Garden

Much of the country is seasonal (and for those of you that don’t have seasons–well, you can skip this post) and even if you don’t have seasons that bring the abundant snowfall shown in Suzy Bales’ The Garden in Winter the book is still a visual treat for the senses.  So far this winter in my part of the country we have had very little snow (except for that freak October storm) and quite frankly, after the October storm and the record snowfall last winter, I’m enjoying just seeing bare earth for a change.

Bales, who has written for most of the women’s publications as well as many garden books, does seem to rely to snowfall to set off many of her photographs.  Nevertheless, many of the principles she discusses in designing a “winter” garden need not be concerned with snow at all, and in fact will be all the more important when there is no snow, such as in winters like these.

She discusses designing with trees and shrubs that use colorful bark, relying on conifers, and conifers that have colorful foliage to give the garden color, movement and texture.  deciduous shrubs have their place too, especially those with colorful bark, or those that produce a berry or persistent fruit like winterberry holly or some of the crab apples.

Even perennials have their place.  In addition to the usual winter blooming heaths and heathers, and some of the hellebores (this book is copyrighted 2007, just at the cusp of the current hellebore craze), pulmonarias (lungworts) and the primula genus are discussed as well.  She has a stunning photo of a hydrangea blossom–dried of course, on the shrub–encased in ice.  It shows its beauty in a whole new light.

Finally the early spring bulbs are discussed, as are ever green containers and making Christmas arrangements from the garden.  There are numerous books on gardening in winter but for scope, artistry, content and beauty of the photography, I’ve never found one that I’ve liked so well as this one. I turn to it again and again for inspiration–especially in a “brown” winter such as this.

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