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Winter Garden Tips

November 26, 2007 - Updated: November 26, 2007

Looking for ways to make your garden more attractive over the winter months? With some relatively warm fall weather still in our midst, but with colder days just around the corner, now is the perfect time to add winter interest to your garden.

Think of winter in the garden and you may think of dead perennials, shrubs and trees which have lost their leaves and overall lackluster appearance.  However with a bit of careful planning, you can turn that ho-hum look into one which is attractive and cheery right through till spring.

First, think of all the things you find attractive in winter. This may be the bright colors of twigs set admist some evergreen boughs, the colorful look of rosehips left on a shrub, or berries clustered with a light dusting of snow. Perhaps it's the twinkle of lights brightening up a pathway.

Next, decide whether you are looking for some temporary solutions to get you through the winter garden doldrums, or whether you're more inclined to go for more permanent solutions. Most people will find a mix of the two suit's them best. By temporary solutions, I'm referring to displays, urns and planters which are "styled" for winter interest. By permanent solutions, I'm referring to the addition of various plant materials or garden accessories which will form a permanent part of your garden.


Urns, Planters and Seasonal Displays

You can hardly go down a street in any neighborhood without seeing some sign of people decorating their homes and gardens for winter.


Good Tips for your garden

Check out local nurseries for materials which will form the basis of your urn and planter displays. Without much trouble you'll find evergreen boughs, colorful twigs (reds, yellow, corals) and interesting berries and fruits. If you live in the Toronto area, consider making a trip to the food terminal early one morning to pick up similar products at a fraction of the cost of the nurseries.

If you feel a little more adventurous, look around at what your neighbors are culling from their gardens. Someone's yard scraps may be the beginnings of another person's work of art.  I've found some interesting bark colors (white birch, red twig dogwood) and interesting twig shapes (corkscrew hazel for example) at the roadside of neighbors yard on garden garbage pick-up days.  Don't be afraid to ask someone if they have a use for all the trimmings for their garden. Most people will be glad it can go to use.

Once you've decided on the number of urns or planters you are going to dress up, and you've found what you're going to put in them, then comes the fun part.Fill the planter or urn with vermiculite or sand.  Unless your containers are suitable to withstand winter frost, it's best to remove all potting soil which has been in them over the past season. An alternative to vermiculite or sand is to use florist's foam

Start with a base of evergreen boughs and then add the colorful shrub twigs or stems with berries and fruits as accents.It takes awhile to get the hang of it but remember sometimes less is more. Don't over-stuff the container.Aim for a light, airy look.

A finishing touch might be the addition of a ribbon draped creatively through the plantings.


Permanent Additions to Your Garden

Why not consider the addition of some plant materials which will go a long way to creating seasonal interest through the winter months, while providing you with all year round impact. Red Osier or Yellow twig Dogwood are great eye catchers in the winter garden. Similarly, the bright orange-red of bittersweet can brighten up any corner of your garden in the winter. Often these accents are most effective when seen in combination with other plants such as evergreens as a backdrop or ground cover.

As always, don't just rush out and purchase one or two of your favorites without giving proper thought to where they will be going, the amount of light they'll get and all the other considerations enter into good garden and planting design.


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