Winter Dreams

It has been a rather open winter so far in the garden. The lack of snow cover is concerning especially for our marginally hardy plants and some of the critters in the garden. Temperatures that rise above freezing for periods of time can be confusing for plants that might get a mixed signal about when Spring is arriving, and spurring an early break of dormancy.
Regardless of uncertainty for our landscape plants, we gardeners are mostly in the dormant period of the winter when our bodies are more idle when it comes to our landscape and gardening. That does not mean our minds are not winter dreaming about the coming garden season.
For some the dreaming starts with the seed and plant catalogs arriving, some with the starting of seeds for their annual flowering plants and veggies, and some are making bigger plans to change their landscape. What are your garden dreams?
My dreams have been focused recently on the landscape as a natural habitat for the plants I like and the critters that find a home there. The balance in this view is to look at the landscape as a shared place for us to grow veggies and beautiful plants and at the same time provide a place for critters through the entire year. This winter while we are dreaming about better weather, the year round residents in our landscapes are busy surviving.
One of the biggest “aha!” thoughts for me has been the understanding that our landscape is a year-round environment and our plants should be sympathetic to making it interesting and habitable in all seasons. Here are a few hints that might help if you agree.
1: Grow perennial and woody plants that have a better chance of survival – Zone 4 at least.
2: Grow plants that are native to your area.
3: Grow plants that have structure that is interesting in the winter and provide year round habitat for small animals, birds and insects.
4: Design your landscape with you in mind of course, but also the birds, the animals and insects that need the landscape every day of the year.
Start the process with your winter dreams this year and you will be amazed at how satisfying and beautiful your landscape can be in the future.

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