Here in the North, winter can be a real eye-opener for us landscapers. What we take for granted in other seasons (flowers, deciduous leaves) is long gone. While we will inevitably miss those things, let’s not overlook the fact that this is a learning opportunity, too.
They say that, when the tide goes out, you learn who’s been swimming without a bathing suit. I’ve always thought that a pretty silly saying. It assumes either a very rapid change in tides or very slow swimmers (physically and/or mentally slow)! But silly or not, I couldn’t help but think of this saying in the context of learning something from the winter landscape.
The “tide” is “out” this time of year in the sense that the ephemeral color found in the landscape in spring, summer and fall has been stripped away. With all the camouflage removed, we get to see what’s really there — the more permanent features, if you will. And the value of certain plants rises in our estimation, as a result.
Which plants? Well, the ones I had in mind in particular when I began writing today are those with colorful foliage that lasts through the winter. Not just greenery, such as my mugo pine and umbrella pine (picture) provide, but also plants with more interesting colors. For example, plants with golden foliage, such as many of the falsecypresses, andplants with silver leaves, such as rose campion.
In addition, when we do not receive a lot of snowfall, shorter plants are allowed to shine throughout the winter (plants that would normally be buried beneath snow and therefore invisible). MyAngelina stonecrop falls into this category. During winters when there’s little snow cover, I’m able to enjoy its golden leaves mostly all of the winter.
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