Lee Valley Tools    Gardening Newsletter
   Vol. 7, Issue 1
   February 2012
   Designing a Wonderful Winter Garden

  Ice-covered pond
  Drooping grasses and a snow-laden spruce tree frame an ice-covered pond.

The garden, devoid of deciduous foliage, is its naked self in winter. As such, unsightly objects and design defects usually masked by vegetation take center stage. Trees and shrubs that need pruning, walls that need re-pointing and gate hardware that needs replacement all cry out for attention. However, winter is also a dynamic period for the garden. Its form and shape change constantly as frost, snow and ice come and go. Plants droop with the weight of snow-laden branches, boulders that made a big impact in summer all but disappear under the snow and the backyard pool's shimmering water transforms into a sheet of ice.

Boundaries, Focal Points and Views
In the winter landscape, evergreens such as pines, spruce, yews, and broadleaf evergreens such as hollies, rhododendrons, laurels and boxwoods must define garden lines and proportions, frame garden rooms, borders and walk ways and provide shelter for wintering birds.

Also, what might be a focal point in the summer may not be around in winter. This is the case with urns, planters and sculptures made of materials unsuitable in winter weather. In their place, trees and shrubs with unusual forms, such as topiary evergreens, windswept pines or espalier plants, as well as those with distinctive bark, fruits and twigs take over. Take care not to plant too many different shapes and colors of evergreens together, as this can create too fussy a look in the barren winter landscape.

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