Guest Post by Suzy Bales
UPDATE FROM SUZY: We have a winner! There were lots of wonderful ideas which made it hard for me
to pick a winner. A big thank-you to everyone who shared there ideas. I chose
Terri Whitelaw because of her combination of humor and practical advise. A sense
of humor is just as important as a good spade in gardening.
Ironically, winter is when we need color most, yet it’s the
season least planned and planted for color. That’s why I wrote The Garden in
Winter. Instead of putting gardens to
bed, gardeners should wake them up!
To further my cause, I’ll send an autographed copy of my book to the commenter
with the most original idea for waking up a winter garden. All ideas, even outrageous
ones are welcome!
Until a decade ago, a garden in winter never crossed my
mind. Now, I plant so I can enjoy winter performers out every window. The sight
of a few brave shrubs blossoming under a desolate sky warms the soul better
than the coziest muffler. Although sensible shrubs wait until spring to bud,
winter bloomers gamble setting buds in the fall, clasping them tightly through
winter blizzards, then opening them for us to admire.
The earliest blooming bulbs also taunt Old Man Winter with
their lively appearance, as if to say, “You can’t keep us down!” They are also
great multipliers, so why don’t we see lawns of snowdrops, crocus, Siberian
squill and glory-of-the-snow?
Color in any form—structures, conifers, bark, berries, and
foliage—brighten up a drab day. But only gold foliage warms up the garden. It
lets the sunshine in. Think gold conifers, and golden berries.
Conifers, in all
shapes, sizes, colors and personalities, dress up a garden. Some are show-offs,
overdressed and snobbish like the oriental spruce ‘Skylands’. Some are short
and squat. Hinoki cypress ‘Nana Gracilis’ waddles in the wind like a toddler in
a snowsuit. And we mustn’t forget the eccentrics. A Chamaecyparis nootkatensis waves its arms and wears a witch’s hat while
C. ‘Pendula’, a weeper, could be
mistaken for the Cookie Monster. Squint at conifers on a foggy winter day and
the figures dance.
An empty urn left in the garden screams, “a death in the
family.” Poke in an assortment of conifers, broadleaf evergreens, rose hips, or
berries and the arrangement stays fresh to embellish the garden for months in
the cold air.
Forget cutting down gardens in the fall. Leave sculptural
seed heads to be capped by snow and ice. Even giant sunflower heads on 6-foot stalks
take the winter in their stride. They simply bend a little closer to the earth
and are a beautiful sight to see.
Winter is the most fascinating season, a time to closely
watch changes in plants. It's when I've seen miracles and been confounded by
mysteries. Every plant has secrets to reveal. Have you noticed that the first
glimpse you have of a peony sprout is red, while a Virginia bluebell’s is black
and most bulbs are yellow? If not, you had better enter the contest for a chance
to win a copy of my book. Otherwise, you’ll simply have to buy it.
Enter with your comments, and the deadline is tomorrow at 9 p.m. Eastern. And to add my 2 cents, it's a beautiful book.