We had some freezing fog/drizzle the other day. Nothing to say here. It’s just so cool-looking, I thought I’d share this. These are branches of a ‘Miss Kim’ lilac. Winter weather does have its virtues!
Here in Iowa the days are still short and dreary. An unexpected storm is supposed to give us a few extra inches of snow today, and that follows a rainy weekend.
Even though spring still seems a long way off, you can make your yard sparkle in winter.
One way is to invest in some dwarf conifers. Grow a couple of rounded plants with a couple of columnar or cone-shaped varieties for a fun contrast that looks good all year.
Dress up your hanging baskets by stringing them in white lights. They’ll add holiday appeal during that season, and will continue to feel appropriate afterward.
Or add a splash of color by spray-painting the dead stems of your favorite perennials that are still in good shape.
Do you have tips for keeping your garden looking great in winter? Share them by commenting below! (Especially you lucky warm-climate gardeners who are enjoying fresh blooms right now.)
Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden manager Sandra Gerdes shared this photo of beautyberry (Callicarpa) after an ice storm.
Say you live in Zone 5 and experience cold winters. Shouldn’t affect your red oak, right? I mean, that’s a species that is cold tolerant down to Zone 3! But if it’s in a container, the otherwise-hardy tree is automatically more at risk in winter. That goes for shrubs and perennials, too, which need insulation for their roots. Fortunately, there are several solutions.
A little blizzard is rolling through Meredith headquarters (and much of the rest of the Midwest) as I write this; we’ve been blanketed with a good snowfall (it looked like about 18 inches as I shoveled this morning), there are strong 40-mph winds, and we have single-digit temperatures.
One consequence of this is it’s probably increasing my heating bill this month. Happily, though, I know some landscaping tricks that help save me money on my heating/cooling bills.
One is to plant a windbreak. While not a new concept (farmers have been doing it forever), an evergreen barrier on the north or east side of your property has the potential to significantly reduce the amount of heat that cold winter winds pull from your home.
If you don’t have the space for a windbreak, consider a berm. It can create a pocket of insulating air space around your home’s foundation. Plant on it and you’ve also created a little extra privacy in your landscape.
How much can it save you? Many experts say 5 to 25 percent, depending on a number of factors. Couple that with the fact that attractive landscaping adds to your home’s value, and it seems like a pretty good deal, eh?
My houseplants are well-watered and my good dogs are fed and walked, so I toss another log on the fire and pick up a book from the pile beside my bed to bolster my spirits from the plummeting temperatures outside. The book I grab just so happens to be Hal Borland’s Sundial of the Seasons (1964, Lippincott). This satisfying book contains 365 of Borland’s outdoor essays from The New York Times, one for each day of the year; and because Borland prefers the natural year to the calendar year, he begins with the vernal equinox, when “April whispers from the hilltop, even as March goes whistling down the valley,” and ends with the passing of “the long nights when the moon rides high over a cold and brittle white-world.” Borland was the Verlyn Klinenborg of his day, writing from his farm in Connecticut’s lower Berkshire Hills (plus, he’s the author of a book I loved as a young adult, The Dog Who Came to Stay). I’ve been reading each day’s essay from Sundial of the Seasons since I picked up the book, so I thought I’d share an eloquent entry from this week, for the first day of December: ”December is a blizzard in Wyoming and a gale on the Lakes and the Berkshires frosted like a plate of cupcakes. It’s fir trees going to the cities by the truckload, and red ribbon by the mile and tinsel everywhere. It’s so many days until You-Know-When. It’s the Winter solstice and the shortest day, and it’s a snow shovel and galoshes and a muffler round the neck. It’s 30 below in Medicine Hat. December is the hungry owl and the fugitive rabbit. the woodchuck abed and the crow all alone in the pasture. It’s soup in the kettle and a log in the fireplace and long wool socks. It’s a wind at the door and a whisper in the air and a hush on the evening when the carols are sung.” I feel warmer already.