WINTER GARDEN WALK
Anne K Moore
�O, it sets my heart a-clickin� like the tickin� of a clock.
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder�s in the shock."
Whitcomb Riley, When the Frost is on the
After the frost leaves the pumpkin and a hard freeze turns
it to mush, I say Halleluiah!� I can
finally get some rest.� In the winter, I
don�t really have to garden, just
because I can.�
During this time of rest, if less work is �rest,� I like to
take stock of how the garden is evolving.�
A piece of paper and pencil replace the shovel and trowel as I wander
through the garden.� Guilt often
accompanies me on my walks.� There is so
much to do and so little time.� Guilt is
fleeting, though, as I make plans and discoveries in the winter landscape.
During these walks in our backyard private spaces, I notice
the evergreen azaleas (USDA Zones 5-8) grouped in separate areas.� They were chosen to blossom at different
times throughout the spring season.� I
think azaleas are splendid in their short-lived spring glory.� The rest of the year, I like to hide them
behind other greenery with more attractive foliage.
A good shady-side combination, much more attractive in
summer and winter than the azaleas, pairs thick long-leaved, deep green
cast-iron plants (Aspidistra elatior) and prickly, mature holly ferns (Cyrtomium falcatum), both zones
6-11.� Both of these attractive plants
thrive in deep shade.� To keep them
looking topnotch, I trim off the yellow leaves in early spring.� Otherwise, they take no care.� Any wonder why they are favorites?
A couple of weeping yaupons (Ilex vomitoria 'Pendula'), zones 7-10, have not been so
favored.� They were puny looking when we
bought this place.� They are finally
beginning to fill out.� It does not hurt
to be too busy to tackle some chores.�
The yaupons have earned a reprieve from the axe.� That stay of execution might not last if they
do not decide to set their translucent red winter berries by next year.
Dog hobble (Leucothoe
racemosa), zones 4-8, is another tall, graceful plant.� Its arching branches screen out the ugly
metal storage building.� Its evergreen
branches also provide fine cover for the birds on frosty nights.� Sweet little bellflowers scent the spring
air.� This native should find more homes
Dwarf gardenias enhance the look of the azaleas out front
and lay at the feet of an edgeworthia in the backyard.� Paperbush plant (Edgeworthia chrysantha), zones 6-10, is a member of the daphne family.�
It is next to the screened porch, where the winter scent and unusual
flower structures can be experienced close up from inside.
Variety zings up a garden.�
There are so many innovative plants on the new plants lists.� I either have to quit falling for new plants
or pull something out.� Something has to
leave.� Last year we yanked out the
Indian Hawthorns.� The Indian Hawthorns
gave the front garden formality.� They
have been replaced with looser, more informal and for the most part, deciduous
Now my favorite bloomers, hydrangeas, occupy the beds where
the Indian Hawthorns once crouched.� Hydrangea
paniculatas come in many flower and shrub sizes.� �The Swan�, zones 3-8, is one of my
favorites.� You must be patient to grow
this beauty.� It can take up to five
years for this ugly duckling to turn into a beautiful swan, but Oh!� The flowers.�
�Big Daddy� is another favorite with his huge flower heads, zones 6-9;
and the hardy �Limelight� and �Pinky Winky�, zones 3-9, are more favorites.�
They all replace the sickly Indian Hawthorns, along with Weigela �Ghost�, zones 4-8, with its
near-white foliage and bright red flowers, and white blossoming evergreen
abelias, zones 6-9.
A winter garden is more than cloudy skies and rose
hips.� The weather outside is not always
frightful.� Count on spending some
delightful work-free days in the winter garden.