A Garden Made for Winter

February 17th, 2018 § Comments Off on A Garden Made for Winter § permalink

A Winter Wonderland, Just Outside My Studio Door

Winter in New England can be long, dark, cold and dreary, to be certain. But if you are a lover of magical, frozen landscapes, beauty also abounds. By mid-February, I often find myself feeling a bit house-bound and restless. The cure for cabin fever? Why a garden walk and a bit of mid-winter pruning, followed by hot cocoa in the lounge chairs of course! If you design your landscape with winter in mind —keep those frost-proof pots and weather-proof furnishings in the garden— there’s plenty of beauty to take in while stretching your legs out-of-doors. Things looking a little ho-hum out there? Well now’s the time to take notice. Grab your camera, as well as pen and paper, then head outside for a good, critical look.

Dogwood Branches (Cornus sericea), in the Garden with Hoary Ice Crystals

When shopping for plants this spring, pay close attention to bark color and texture. Perhaps it won’t matter much in May —especially when compared to all of those bodacious blossoms at the garden center— but come January, you’ll be grateful for the advice. Some of my favorite shrubs, such as Cornus sericea or Cornus alba, while not unattractive during the growing season, are really nothing much to look at in June and July. But when those autumn leaves drop and the fog rolls in? POW.

 Winter Walkway with Layers of Textural Plantings

Another design tip worth sharing? Think texture! Layer your garden with nubby, fluffy, spiky and bristly trees, shrubs, perennials, vines and grasses. Plants with rough textures really catch the frost, snow and ice. There’s nothing better for creating a magical, winter wonderland. Mix conifers among the deciduous shrubs and perennials —especially those with colorful textures, bark and/or berries— to create contrast and depth. Creeping, horizontal and upright Juniperus, Taxus, Microbiota decussataPicea abies ‘Nidiformis,’ and Pinus mugo are just a few garden-worthy species that will add tremendous winter delight. Looking for shrubs with colorful fruit? Travel back in time to my post, “Oh, Tutti Frutti: It’s Candy Land Time! Magical & Colorful Ornamental Berries” for more ideas.

Siberian Cypress (Microbiota decussata) along the Northwestern Walkway, with Miscanthus sinensis and Viburnum Hedge, Beyond

 

Miscanthus sinensis Always Puts on a Great, Autumn-Late-Winter Show

In addition to trees and shrubs, there are so many winter-garden-worthy perennials plants, vines and ornamental grasses to consider when designing a four-season garden. Pay attention to species with semi-evergreen or evergreen foliage, large or plentiful seed pods —particularly the tough, bristly types and dark, smooth ones!— as well as grasses with durable stems, tufts and blades. Some long-standing, perennial favorites? Actaea, Amsonia, Baptisia, Coreopsis, Echinacea, Echinops, Echiveria, Eryngium, Eupatorium, Humulus, Hellebore, Liatris, Nepeta (especially taller species), Rodgersia, Rudbeckia, Salvia, Sedum and among others. As for ornamental grasses …Oh my, where do I start? I love our natives —including Panicum, Pennisetum, Calamagrostis, Carex, Chasmanthium, Festuca and Schizachyrium— but also adore exotics, such as Miscanthus and Hakonechloa. It all depends upon the location and look you are trying to create.

Tea Viburnum (Viburnum setigerum), is a Knock-Out from November through February. Colorful Berries Really Show-Off Planted with Buff-Colored Grasses or Green-Grey Conifers. Delight!

Of course, the most important aspect of winter garden plantings is location! Place these valuable additions to your garden design where you will be able to enjoy their colorful bristles, bark, berries and structural lines. I like to locate plants with winter-durable fruit, interesting seed pods, peeling bark and texture outside my favorite windows, where I can enjoy them throughout the year. Entryway gardens are always good spots for plantings, to be sure, but also mix winter interest plants thoughtfully along main walks and garden pathways; positioning them near kitchen windows, bathrooms and in places where you might spy them while doing paperwork at your desk. It pays to plan now, and make notes for spring planting season.

Rosé for Breakfast? Why Not? Even if I’m Stuck Indoors, This Garden Vignette, Visible from My Windows, Fills Me with Joy.

When high temperatures struggle to reach freezing, and feeding the wood stove is a round-the-clock chore, time spent outside is short and to-the-point. Leisurely garden strolls? They truly are of the question some days. Still, I find ways to appreciate the beauty of nature, even from indoors. Trees and shrubs planted near the house —especially those just beyond the windows and doors— catch glistening snow, ice and sunlight, and playfully dance against the wall as shadows.  And if all else fails? Well, there’s always the magic of Jack Frost to help us through the winter…

Halesia tetraptera Through Jack Frost’s Newly Embroidered, Lace Curtain

 

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Gathering Branches, Bramble & Berries: The Allure of Autumn Bouquets

September 26th, 2014 § Comments Off on Gathering Branches, Bramble & Berries: The Allure of Autumn Bouquets § permalink

IMG_8719.JPGIn the Garden with Freshly Cut Tea Viburnum (V. setigerum) & Limelight Hydrangea (H. paniculata ‘Limelight’)

 Although I love springtime vases filled with fragrant peonies, blue iris and cabbage roses, I equally adore the vibrance and longevity of autumn bouquets. At this time of year, foliage colors and textures are so rich and varied, that it’s almost unnecessary to add flowers —but of course, who can resist? Hydrangea, asters, dahlias, sunflowers, fairy candles, and other late summer and early autumn blossoms are at peak beauty right now, and they often need little embellishment. Just add a few Viburnum branches, orangey ferns or feathery grasses and you have a stunning arrangement.

Dried flowers alone, or mixed with fresh elements, are especially beautiful in fall. For tips on how to dry flowers, and which ones work best, travel back to my post on drying flowers and herbs, here. For fresh-cut flower care tips, visit my past post on the subject here.

IMG_8868.JPGThe simplest and easiest way to dry hydrangea blossoms, is to harvest when mature (after cool weather sets in is best), remove leaves from stems and arrange in vases with a small amount of water. Instead of refilling the vase each day, simply allow the vessel to run out of water, drying the flowers naturally.

Viburnum x 'Mohawk' - www.thegardenerseden.comMohawk Viburnum branches, filled with scarlet fruits, make spectacular additions to flower arrangements. While the berries add bright color, the green leaves provide complementary contrast and the woody branches lend excellent support to more ethereal elements.

Photography & Text ⓒ Michaela Medina Harlow/The Gardener’s Eden. All photographs, artwork, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of Michaela Medina Harlow and/or The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you!

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A First Look at the Festive Season Ahead. Shop the Holiday 2014 Collection and receive $9.95 Flat Rate Shipping with promo code 15USA004 at PeruvianConnection.com!

November Light, A Dusting of Snow & The Beauty of Late Autumn Hues . . .

November 26th, 2013 § Comments Off on November Light, A Dusting of Snow & The Beauty of Late Autumn Hues . . . § permalink

Winterberry in the Entry (Ilex verticillata) - copyright michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Gathered from the Garden: Winterberry Branches by the Armful

Late autumn and early winter are like two jealous siblings, pushing and pulling for our attention on Mother Nature’s beautiful playground. One day, autumn will win out; all golden light and tawny strands, running wild in the wind. And the next, winter pushes her back and takes over; frost, fog and flurries blurring the landscape like a pastel painting. Of course, I can’t help but love them both, and I delight in their back-and-forth as the days grow colder and shorter now, so late in the year.

My garden installation work winding down, I’m settling back into the studio as the snow begins to fly. As always, I seek inspiration in the natural landscape; drawing upon the beauty of stark lines and late autumn hues, low light and softening snow squalls. On long walks through the garden, forest and surrounding landscape, I gather as many winterberry branches, hemlock boughs, pinecones and tufts of maiden grass as my arms can carry.

It’s time to begin decking the halls & for seasonal celebrations to begin.

winterberry (ilex verticillata) michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Wild Winterberries (Ilex verticillata) Dot the Swampy Shore

Dream a Little Dream - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Dried Asters Shimmer, Backlit Blond in the Meadow

Red Berries and November Sky (Viburnum setigerum) copyright 2013 - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Tea Viburnum Fruits (V. setigerum), Brilliant Scarlet in a Tawny Landscape

Sunlit Asters - copyright 2013 michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Sunlight Dances Upon the Faded Grandeur of Autumn’s Finery 

Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com

Snow-Dusted Hydrangea Blossoms - copyright michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com  Beauty Everlasting: Snow-Dusted Hydrangea Blossoms, Still Hold a Beautiful Bronze Hue

Snow-Dusted Winterberry - copyright 2013 michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.comBunches and Bunches of Bright Red Winterberries (Ilex verticillata) Brighten a Wintry Autumn Day

empty garden chair - copyright michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.comThe Empty Garden’s Haunting Beauty (Rudbeckia hirta, Miscanthus sinensis & Companions)

Photography & Textⓒ Michaela Medina Harlow/The Gardener’s Eden. All photographs, artwork, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of Michaela Medina Harlow and/or The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you!

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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