All this snow we’ve been having has coincided with me opening up our book-sale copy of The Four-Season Landscape and starting to read from the front, rather than in some random spot. The author maintains that if you want a four-season garden, you need to start with planning for winter. That’s when your yard’s “bones” are most apparent–and, it seems, why you need shrubs. Yes, after many years, I am finally warming up to this idea, provided the shrubs can’t pass for miniature trees.
To be fair, lots of things look great in fresh snow, even just a dusting. I am learning to notice the tree branches, and they do a great job of catching snow. So do grasses, for that matter. So maybe this week isn’t the best for forcing me to notice the shortfalls of the yard at this time of year.
The Brit says we aren’t doing too badly as it is. We have lots of mature trees, and the view to the back clear to the river is great, even more so with snow. Think of how many yards you know that are wide open to the neighbor’s back yard. Way too many.
One hurdle I’ve had to overcome is “who cares?” I leave the house when it’s dark and get home when it’s dark, so how much will I benefit from ‘winter interest’? I need to think of it as keeping the yard from looking bare at the beginning of daylight savings time, when I should quickly come home to daylight and the daffodils haven’t taken over the front bed. That is one reason that we are thinking of moving the hypericum shrub, with its yellow flowers, from the edge of the iris bed and to the front of the yard. It keeps its green leaves all winter, so it will be good to appreciate that more often.We’ll find something else to fill the hypericum’s spot.
I’ve also begun thinking that a couple of red-twig dogwoods, paired possibly with a yellow-twig dogwood would be a nice view from the dining room window, especially now that I’ve seen how a friend cuts her yellow-twig dogwood to the ground in the spring. (You get the color on new branches.)
Another idea is to add some interesting groundcover. One idea is Euonymus Colorata, a wintercreeper whose glossy green leaves deepen to reddish purple in late fall into winter. I’ve already thought of adding some flowers around the lone dwarf burning bush (backbone to a bed!), so perhaps wintercreeper could fit in there or around the Norwegian maple as an early test.