October 9, 2011

But What Do You Blog About in Winter?

The featured speaker at the Connecticut Horticultural Society's September meeting was Margaret Roach.  You all know her from her blog A Way To Garden, and from her Martha Stewart editing days. 

I went to hear her speak and to see slides of her beautiful garden in upstate New York.

She was a delightfully entertaining speaker.  The slides were familiar to me --- I have followed her blog since she began it, and have seen many of the plants and views featured in her posts over the years.  But it was her message that caught my attention: the 365 day garden is a joy all year. 

She launched her talk by saying that autumn causes many people to lament the "end of the season" or to regret that it's time to "close the garden".  But to her a garden shines every single day of the year.  You just have to go beyond perennials.

Fall and winter are as beautiful as other seasons and something is always, always going on out there if you look and if you design for it.  Even dreary late spring is enjoyable when her beloved frog boys emerge from under the mud and come back to entertain her with their antics.

I really related to her talk.  In my own garden the most glorious season is fall, and it doesn't feel like the end of anything.  It feels like a continuation, only more colorful than the summer bloom period. 

last November

Winter is cold here, and long, and damn poor for napping in the hammock.  But it is a wonderful season in the garden, with woody plants and dried seedheads taking the stage, and evergreens for color, and interesting sights in every landscape.  If you garden with more than perennials and flowering annuals, you have a 365 day garden.

A new acquaintance once learned about my blog, and asked me "but what do you blog about in the winter?"  I was a little stunned.  I blog about my garden in the winter.  I didn't know what else to say.  Then it dawned on me that to her a garden was a flowerbed or vegetable patch.  When it was done blooming or producing, you closed the garden and the season was over.

Not in my garden.  I was so glad to hear Margaret Roach articulate what I feel.  My garden is a great place to visit and see and even blog about all year long*.

* Except for three weeks at the end of March when icy mud oozes everywhere and vole tunnels snake through every bed and an unrelenting brown color won't quit.  I try, but those three weeks simply do not fit into the 365 day garden.  

They don't.  What I have here is really a 344 day garden.  

Just being honest.


  1. Love your last comments!!! I blog about my garden in the winter, too, even though my garden has zero winter interest. I don't mind it being a bit boring in the winter since I don't have any time to work in it. It comes to life right around the time our massive Science Symposium, of which I am the grand poohbah, is finished. By then, I am so stressed and brain dead that all I can do is wander the yard looking for daffodils. I can't even transplant. It requires too much thought.

    The new bed took 50 bags of compost because of how low it was. Plus, it's bigger than the pics show. Ya know cameras always take off 10 feet! :o)

  2. Glad you included the disclaimer! Ha.
    During the winter, I try to look at the "flat spaces" and figure out what to put there.

  3. I just don't understand the bloggers I am reading now that are "cutting down the garden"! What are they going to look at all winter, I wonder? What will the birds come to eat??
    I hate the winter and I cannot let it take all my garden!

  4. You really ought to read the book by Elizabeth Lawrence (if you haven't)Gardens in Winter. Her books are hard to find and out of print, but you can probably have your library order it interlibrary loan. Her attitude was the same as yours. It may be colder, but a garden is 365 days a year.

    (Another great book she wrote is called Gardening for Love. It's much easier to find, but doesn't speak to the heart of your topic today.)

    Bravo for this great post. I have been wondering ... most of the garden bloggers I read are wrapping it up, and cutting it down. It made me wonder if I should do the same. But my garden is doing the best it has done all year and I am not willing to cut off the best I have received from my garden. Thanks for encouraging me to keep going. :)

  5. I wondered much the same thing when I started blogging--what will I write about in the winter? But I've come to appreciate the beauty of snow-covered seedheads and grasses frozen in ice. A lovely post, Laurrie, and I love your beautiful maple, especially glowing among the bare trees.

    I always chuckle at your honesty, too--I get pretty grumpy by the end of February, and there's nothing lovely in my muddy March garden:)

  6. Well said!

    As a northern gardener, if I felt like my garden was a garden only in the summer I don't think I would bother. As it stands, it is a garden all year 'round and I love looking out at it in the winter. With the addition of a few new trees this year it should be even more interesting.

  7. Tammy, You can't possibly have zero winter interest in your garden -- you have so many shrubs and vines and things to look at all year.

    Gardener on Sherlock, Winter does provide more of an empty canvas for planning purposes. It lets us see the bones.

    Sissy, that's why a garden should be more than perennials that have to be cut back. It really needs shrubs, groundcovers, vines, trees!

    Cristy, Thanks for the great book recommendation, I will see if I can find it. I am always looking for good writers on the topics I want more of!

    Rose, Your climate is a lot like mine, beautiful all year EXCEPT those awful end of winter weeks.

    Garden Ms. S, If you are adding more trees, you are definitely creating a 365 (more or less) view.

  8. Laurrie, those three weeks at the end of March are a great time to dream about the gardens ... that's when retreating to archived photos keep northern gardeners sane.


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