The Gardens in Winter

Blogging friends in New Zealand and Australia have been sharing photos of their beautiful spring gardens. Am I envious? You bet I am. Spring is one of my favorite times of year when everything bursts into glorious life.

Because I live Maine, which is in the northern hemisphere, winter is here, and spring is but a distant dream. I know. Technically it is still fall, but it sure doesn’t feel that way in northern New England.

However, my gardens in winter have their own austere beauty, especially now that I don’t trim back the plants in the fall. This idea came to me from my blogging friend, Jason of Garden in a City, who maintains that it is better for the natural world to leave the stalks and stems until spring. I have been doing this for several years and have become a real fan of this method.

Here are some pictures that I recently took in the front yard. Because we live in the woods, the lighting can be tricksy. This time of year, the sun—low in the sky—flickers briefly across the front yard and hardly makes it to the backyard.

So onward we go, spinning around the sun. Every season has its delights, even winter, whose cold touch stills all that is green and growing.


40 thoughts on “The Gardens in Winter”

  1. Now that I leave all the stalks up all winter, it really is pretty to see, esp. with a dusting of snow. The birds forage in there as well, an added bonus for both of us.

  2. It seems strange to be here in southern New England. We had a smidgen of snow last week and some cold nights, but most days are in the 40″s. Not New England as I know it!

  3. Jason is right, leaving those stalks and stems is good! I’ve seen many a small bird feeding on seed heads from lemon balm during the winter.

    I am hoping we do not see snow here in my part of western Oregon this winter, but I think we will anyway.

  4. We are just getting a few frosty mornings here in southern UK, snow is fairly rare, your photos remind me of the wonderful clear and quiet atmosphere that comes with the beauty of the snow – especially twinkling in the sunshine.

  5. Hi, Laurie – I agree that every season does have its own unique beauty We have had a very mild autumn on Vancouver Island so our grass is still bright green and no snow is forecasted for the near future. I like this ‘baby steps to Winter’ approach! 😀

    1. In the past, winter came to Maine more gradually, but for the past four years or so, it has come with a crash in November. My motto: Weird is the new normal.

  6. Now that we leave debris and stalks and stems alone through the winter, it has made a big difference (thanks to Jason’s blog and our local garden magazine). This year we had a record number of Lady beetles, and the roses are smiling…no aphids!

  7. Even the state “landscapers” are beginning to leave well enough alone, letting roadside grasses linger much longer in the fall, just as they allow wildflowers to seed before mowing. It doesn’t always happen (it seems to vary county by county) but it’s good practice.

  8. I love leaving things up through the winter–you can still tidy the garden up but leave things. Goodness, that snow! I suppose it has its attractions, and winter is right around the corner.

  9. Good idea to leave things alone. We have a couple of cordylines that aren’t hardy but their lower leaves will be left in place to protect the stems – as, although it does look untidy, they manage to make it through the winter like that.

  10. We have left the stalks for many years now – it’s amazing what lives in there. Julia has a constant battle in the Mencap Garden as one of her volunteers loves the old trimmed and regimented style and tends to launch raids on “untidy” clumps. 🙂

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