Saturday, February 5, 2011

When Icicles Hang By The Wall

William Shakespeare
From Love's Labours Lost, Act V. Sc. II

When icicles hang by the wall
  And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,
And Tom bears logs into the hall,
  And milk comes frozen home in pail;

I remember as an English school-child learning Shakespeare's ode to winter. Reading about Tom and Greasy Joan intrigued me back then. I loved the little icicles that hung down from the gutter on the low schoolhouse roof. We would break them off and pretend they were lollies. Pennsylvania icicles are another matter; they are enormous stalactites that can inflict a great deal of damage when they fall. In fact, it seems to me that everything about a PA winter is 'another matter'. Or have I become a Winter Wimp? I will not brave the cold outdoors unless absolutely necessary. I sit by the warm fire in the den, or in my comfy, garden-room armchair, and admire the snowy views through windows. Last summer, I blogged about the views from my windows (See A Room With a View for June's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.) Then the scenes were full of bright colors. Winter views are quieter; my photographs are black and white instead of color.

When the garden is covered with snow one should not only admire its beauty - you can now see the REAL BONES of the garden. This can be a useful tool for planning, or changing, your garden design. For this reason, when I teach a class on garden design I like to begin with the winter garden. I like to talk about the importance of structures, plants, and ornaments to make the winter garden more interesting.

Structures include arbors, sheds, and fences. The arbor in the picture above leads you into the woodland walk. I can see this arbor, and the bridge over bluebell creek, from the garden room window.

The cedar bridge introduces some color into the landscape as does my favorite structure, my potting shed. The shed is revealed from the den window through a crystal curtain ...

Other important structures in my garden include various fences. An unusual structure is a pile of large rocks in the pasture. H.H. had then placed there to give the goat somewhere to climb. Billy loves to lie on the rocks in the sun when some of the snow has melted with the January thaw.

Grasses and trees provide winter plant interest in my Pennsylvania garden. I am keeping some of those pictures for the next Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. But I must show the beautiful white pine that bows down with the weight of ice after an ice storm.

The trees between the pasture and the woodland garden are both deciduous and evergreen. They display snow and ice in interesting ways.

It is important to leave some garden ornaments outside in the winter as long as they wont be damaged by the harsh weather. I put a lot of mine in the basement for protection, but leave out a few, such as the old water pump. It's bright red paint provides a warm splash of color.

The metal bicycle (plant holder) on the picket fence is ghostly in the snow.

The naked lady (as my grandson calls her) soaks in a cool bubble bath.

Finally, as you know, it is important to provide shelter, food, and water for the birds in the winter garden. H.H. places numerous bird houses in every corner for our feathered friends. The bird house below is occupied by bluebirds. The one on the fence is shelter to a wren.

H.H. hung a bird feeder from a branch of the catalpa tree outside the garden-room French windows, and he placed a heated water-dish on the porch there.

Birds provide the BEST colors in the snow-covered garden. My favorite are the bluebirds.

A good garden designer plans how the winter garden looks from each window. I am sorry to say I did little planning originally, but I can now see where I should make changes. I recommend you observe your winter garden with the following elements in mind: structures, plants, ornaments, and of course color.

In conclusion, I prefer the warmth inside my house, but one thing will make me venture outside ... building a snowman with a grandson. Yes, my garden definitely has four seasons of interest!

Have a wonderful weekend!
Pamela x


  1. Glad to see you back and hope that everything went well in the hospital. Your garden looks wonderful no matter if the sun is shining or if it's covered in snow. There is so much interest in every part of the garden. What a little cutey your grandson is.

  2. Dear Pamela, What a magical winter landscape your photographs capture here...but how wise to stay indoors. In Budapest the icicles are often enormous and hang menacingly from the guttering of buildings. So much so that barricades and warning signs are ercted across the pavement to protect pedestrians.

    And, how right you are that in a snowy landscape one is best able to see the garden bones and to plan for any changes in the coming year.

    I was sorry to hear that you have been in hospital and am so glad to read a posting from you!!

  3. Dear Pam, I'm glad to see you back and hope everything is well healthwise. The winter "bones" in your garden are more than just bones! But I know what you mean and have also noticed that certain basic structures become most visible when the garden is under snow. That bicycle looks like the wicked witch of the West just got off it. And I love your bridge. But still: I'm very glad that our snow has all melted and spring is in the air.

  4. So glad for this post.
    Two reasons:

    1. You must be the mend, which hopefully means you are feeling better.

    2. The pictures of your garden in winter are wonderful. Esp that of your grandson and his snowman friend.

    It seems the entire nation has seen some form of snow this year, we have seen snow and ice in Birmingham....

  5. Bluebell Creek ;~)
    Perhaps Billy would like the Goat Tower at Fairview?

  6. Pam, your garden is so lovely. It does have so many seasons of interest. I would say even more than four because there are the subseasons as it were. I dearly love your little bridge. So sweet and such a bright spot. I can't end without commenting on the last picture of the most beautiful flower in your garden of all. The wee one with the red coat.~~Dee

  7. Pam, I too am looking through a crystal curtain and will think of you when I do. Beautiful imagery in words and photos. Carolyn

  8. Snow does seem to do strange and interesting things in the garden, almost making it a completely different place. The trees and bicycle are hauntingly beautiful, and I laughed at the naked lady's bubble bath! Cute grandson!

  9. Lovely garden images in your winter scape. You are so right about good bones. Our designs may plan for winter in interest, but Mother Nature has the final say, and she usually does a fine job of making our gardens gorgeous in winter. Funny my post today is on just this issue. It is really commenting on those who think winter interest is hard to achieve in 'domestic' gardens.

  10. I'm definitely a weather wimp, and I'm down here in Texas! I think I'd hibernate indoors all winter if I lived up in PA. Your photos are wonderful. Those icicles are spectacular!

  11. Pretty shots.
    Spring will be here soon...well sorta soon.
    Grandson and snowman is a keeper !!!

  12. Dear Pam
    First I must say sorry for not visiting your blog recently and if I had then I would have known you were in Hospital. I am going to look at the back posts now to catch up.
    Secondly, This post is lovely, your photo's are stunning and those Icicles ! well! I have never seen them so big, rather you than me !! Your garden looks so pretty (from the warmth of indoors) and your grandson is so cute.

    I hope you are on the mend now. Keep warm and look forward to Spring as it's not far away.

    Maureen xxxx

  13. Pam, so glad you're feeling better! The icicles are amazing, what wonderful photography. I love the garden in winter, it's so peaceful and I can take a rest, too. Thank you for sharing your beautiful garden!

  14. I have the same EXACT water pump near my pond. I wanted to spray paint it once and my husband stopped me telling me it would just ruin it. I left it to be "vintage" and I am glad I did now!

    I venture outside to feed the birds and get a bit of sunshine. But I am like you and rather enjoy the warmth of my home.
    Your icicle pictures are pretty!
    And that little guy building a snowman is precious!
    Keep warm, Pam!

  15. Pamela...your little grandson is so darling. It is fun to build snowmen with the little ones, it gives us a chance to be a child again.

    Your winter garden is just so pretty. How lovely to have so much speace around you.
    I look forward to following the seasons in your garden as the year progresses......

  16. Wonderful winter post. The garden is a thing of beauty in every season, even those trying bouts of snow and ice bring a magical aspect to the world outside our windows.

    Thank you for stopping The Cottage today. I left a long comment in response to your photography questions. If you have any questions please send off an email and I'd be happy to go into more detail about my ventures in learning photography.

    So glad to see your back in the blogosphere after your hospital venture.

    Stay warm & well, my friend.

  17. I am thrilled that you stopped by my blog so I could find you!! Your winter landscape is so beautiful to look at. I especially like the view of your potting shed through the icicles. How lovely.

  18. Your comment about stalactite icicles prompted a memory, a horrible memory from my childhood to resurface.

    I once thought it would be a great idea to get those giant icicles down by tipping my sled up to the roof. Of course the jumbo thing broke and slid right down the sled and into my mouth, nearly busting a few teeth out and giving me one big fat lip.

    I'm sure there's a double meaning in it all, but I can only cringe at the whole experience, even twenty five years later.

    Christine in Alaska, staying far away from icicles

  19. Stunning pictures and an adorable grandson!

  20. Sorry to hear you've been in hospital but glad to see you're well now or recovering. Do take care,

  21. Great post! I agree, winter is a great time to see the "bones" of our gardens.. Love your photos-I'm fond of bluebirds too :)

  22. Hi Pam,
    My brother and I used to break off the icicles too and pretend with them. I remember one year, one monstrous thing did fall and went through my brother's lip. It was horrible and I though he was dying! It gave us quite the scare! I don't think we ever played with the icicles again like that. Love your little church birdhouse! I like to stay indoors too this time of year. Springtime can't come soon enough for Hubby and me! It's nice to 'meet' you.


  23. Dear Pam, I'm so glad you found me... and now I've found you! Your post warmed my heart. It seems we have much in common. I look forward to returning to visit you.

  24. Pam, Your garden is a haven for birds . . . you have so many wonderful houses!! I love this winter wonderland post and your garden does indeed offer many treasures to admire. How fun to build a snowman with your grandson! I am so glad you are up to it!!