Winter Wonder Gardens

By Linda Wiggen Kraft

Gardens are full of wonder year round. In winter gardens speak to us in a whisper instead of a shout. Winter gardens are more like a meditation than a celebration. During the growing season we celebrate the riot of flowers, foliage and fruit. It is during the quiet of the winter when we have to attune our senses to the subtlety of a garden’s wonder.

Most plants have retreated underground in winter, their roots holding the life that will emerge in spring. It is those with woody stems and trunks that are now left bare to show their power and beauty. Trees stand tall, their bare branches like arms and fingers reaching in prayer to the heavens. Their outstretched limbs receive energies of the sky, transporting them deep into the earth. Their outer most branches sway like pencils standing in silhouette against the changing sky, writing the poetry of nature as the wind guides their strokes.

Most plant colors are muted in winter. They are soft, full of tans, browns with occasional shots of evergreens and bright berries. Evergreens hold the promise of a returning green spring and stand in contrast to the other hues. The tans of winter grasses and foliage create a simple melody of colors when seen against green. Berries of winter are spots of color that stand out as bright red dots or have to be sought out to see their softer colors.

When snow arrives highlighting the outlines of the above ground garden life, a whole new world of wonder appears. Softly falling snow is like flowers falling from the sky. Even ice, with its crystal dangers, creates an ice palace of nature when the sun appears and the trees, shrubs and plants glitter. A garden is never plants alone, it is a community of life. Birds that stay through the cold months are part of a garden’s life. Like the colors of winter plants, birds are a moving palette of colors with bright red, browns, blacks and more.

Providing food in feeders and plants that have gone to seed helps keep birds alive in winter’s cold. One of the most life filled gardens are those that leave the stems, flower seed heads and other foliage around in winter. A native garden with many different kinds of plants provides seeds for birds in winter and in warmer months attracts those insects that will not only pollinate the plants but provide food for birds as they feed their young.

The challenge of winter gardens is that we often stay indoors. We miss seeing, and being in, the wonder of a winter garden. Bundle up and enjoy this winter’sgardens.

Linda Wiggen Kraft is a landscape designer who creates holistic and organic gardens. She is also a mandala artist and workshop leader. Visit her blog:
CreativityForTheSoul.com/blog or website: CreativityForTheSoul.com. Contact her at 314 504-4266.