Winter is the least favorite season for most gardeners, but it doesn't have to be all drudgery and misery. Keeping a positive attitude and looking for the beauty in winter goes a long way. The garden isn't dead, it's only sleeping, and walking through the garden on a frosty morning, you can see many of her dreams.
A few tricks I came up with to appreciate gloomy days are:
*Foggy days are now misty days. Mist sounds more magical than fog.
*The structure of the garden is much easier to see in the winter.
*Mosses are verdant, velvety accents.
*Seedheads left up in the garden feed the birds and add rustly sounds.
There are many plants that add interest to a winter garden. I would never be without Sarcococca (Fragrant blooms in January) and Daphne odora (fragrant blooms in February). I planted them by my front door so I can enjoy their fragrance as I go in and out. They both need shade in the summer, so plant them on the east or north side of the house by a door or window.
Hellebores bloom from late January into late March and then hold their bracts in muted tones much longer. New breeding has come up with fabulous colors and forms.
Witch hazels are another excellent choice for a winter garden. Most bloom in January -March and some are fragrant. My favorites are 'Ruby Glow', Jelena, and 'Sunburst'.
This picture of Hamamelis 'Ruby Glow' was taken on January 24th. It has wonderful fragrance and beautiful flowers. An added bonus is spectacular foliage color in the fall.
Flame Willow gives brilliant color in the winter. These plants benefit from a hard cutting back in the spring. The best color is one new wood. They grow back with amazing speed. Picture taken January 17th
Coral Bark Maple is another bright barked tree that glows in the winter. Picture taken October 21st
Snow is beautiful in the trees and on the ground. Ignore the negative aspects of it and savor the small gifts like these quail tracks. Picture taken March 9th.
Rime on roses is a sublime treat. Anytime there is heavy frost in the garden is a good time to get out with the camera. Picture taken November 27th by Greg Smith
A single Hellebore blossom frozen in a basin is a thing of beauty. Picture taken January 19th