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!