If you're anything like me, walking around my garden in the winter months is a time when my initial reaction can sway a bit negative. The garden is at a low, it just simply underwhelms. With so many barren, twiggy bushes, and so many open blank spaces, which can easily be forgotten as hosting vigorous perennials just months before, it's hard to believe that these dormant plants had an entirely different impact, not too long ago.
I think such a big element in a gardener's spirit is the ability to remain patient and appreciate progress. It's not always easy, and often one's initial reaction, but I'm beginning to feel a bit of fulfillment in seeing the garden in a different light during the depths of winter. When all is stripped away, it's much easier to identify opportunity, reflecting on previous season's wins and flops, and then make changes accordingly.
And isn't it fascinating which plants command our attention in the winter? No longer do poppies reign high, and english roses permeate the air, or masses of salvia draw you in with their gust of color; instead, in the winter months, the evergreens shine. Green simply reigns superior. Winter is a time for boxwoods, little ollies, architectural artichokes and agave to command attention. Mass plantings of hellebore make a dramatic impact and suffice any flower lover's craving for blooms. And plants with ornamental foliage and architectural elements add structure to the garden and make up for the lack of flowers.
And so with obvious recognition that my garden would benefit from additional elements of structure and winter interest, my initial reaction is to 'fix' the problem with the addition of new plants. But, instead of rushing to amend, I try to force myself to slow down, to appreciate the beauty I have already created in my young garden and to remain patient. I work to recognize the progress I've made since last year, and I acknowledge that my garden is an evolution of lessons & ideas that will take years to mature. I prioritize a few changes, and hold off on the balance. My garden will never be perfect, but it will always be my canvas where progress is made.
And as a side note, I do realize how fortunate or silly I may sound talking about 'winter' when I reside in California. Even in Northern Cali where we experience much more weather than our southern
neighbors, our winters are so mild in comparison to the rest of the country. So for all of you experiencing the frigid chill of winter, I encourage you to appreciate the beauty of the stark, white snow & relish in your little snowdrop buds as they pop out their heads to say hello. And, remember how much your peony plants adore and thrive in the cold, because soon enough, you'll be relishing in the most abundant show of blooms for all to admire.