WONDERS OF WINTER: The garden is full of magical sights this season | Home & Garden

It’s finally winter. Author Rosemary Verley writes, “The winter garden is the absolute test of the true gardener.”

Some gardeners stay home, perusing piles of seed catalogs packed in mailboxes and boxes.

Intrepid gardeners roam everywhere except in frigid weather, checking plant health in the cold and dealing with problems. Early winter is still a good time to plant, especially if the ground is not frozen. plant! Put on your hat, scarf, coat and warm pants and dig in.

Some people find winter boring and harsh. But winter is magical and elegant in its own right.

Gone are the riots of bright colors from annuals and perennials in summer and fall, and the bones of our gardens can take center stage.

In winter, the bark, limbs and trunk stand out and catch the eye. Bare trees are exquisite. Twisted limbs and trunks add charm to any garden, and the stars shine in the colder months. Harry Lauder’s walking stick (Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’, also known as warped hazelnut or corkscrew his hazelnut) is an eye-catcher in winter landscapes with its gnarled limbs and twigs.

Burke is charming. Dogwood bark resembles elephant skin. Birch bark is unusual, rough, flaking and characteristic. Some trees, such as the multi-season ‘Natchez’ crepe myrtle, shed their bark in the summer to reveal a stunning cinnamon-colored bark.

‘Coral Bark’ Maple bark has a reddish color that stands out in a sea of ​​browns and greens.

Evergreen shrubs and trees shine in winter. From the pointed, bright green holly leaves to the lacey chartreuse leaves of the cypress shrub (“Gold Thread” false cypress), evergreens not only add a luscious green hue to your winter garden, but they are also important. It also adds texture. They are a must for winter landscapes.

Bright red cardinals resting on the branches among the lush foliage are a delight. Songbirds seek food and water in winter. Provide them with what they need, plenty of fresh water and fresh food. The presence of birds in the garden brightens every day. Bird baths with devices that keep water from freezing are readily available. The chirping of birds will be the soundtrack to your winter garden. Watching the birds flocked to the feeders brightens the darkest days.

Berries are the jewels of the winter garden. Many plants retain their berries during the winter, so the berries not only provide food for birds but also add color to the garden.

The vines that climb our fence may have lost their leaves, but their twisted roots provide vertical interest.

Our summer containers can take on new winter roles. Now they hold low temperature plants filled with dwarf evergreens, surrounded by cool season annuals, pansies and snapdragons. I have. Containers must be frost resistant. Terracotta can crack and shatter.

When we think of colored beds and containers for the winter season, we immediately think of the wonderful pansies.Pansies come in many different colors. Some have multicolored faces (spots), while others sport faces that are only one color. Pansies also have sizes. Looking out the window on a cold day and seeing a cheerful face soothes the gardener’s heart. When spent flowers are removed, the pansies bloom better and the gardener can do a satisfying garden chore on sunny winter days.

camellia season

A winter garden would be incomplete without the stunning blooms and lush evergreen foliage of Alabama’s state flower, the camellia.

A visit to camellia nurseries and public gardens at this time of year will surprise gardeners with the wide variety of camellias. There is no way to describe the beauty of camellia flowers. There are pink, red, white, yellow, multicolored and even dramatic black flowers (“black magic”). Every garden needs at least one, and the more the better. It comes in different sizes, which makes it even more attractive. In early autumn, sasanqua flowers color the garden. Camellia starts blooming from late autumn to early winter. You can keep the camellias blooming until the end of winter.

Camellia is an easy-to-grow plant. Provided with the right location, they will stay in the garden for years and decades. They prefer acidic, well-drained soil and semi-shaded conditions. Mature camellias can get very large, so give them plenty of room. Camellia should not be planted too deeply. That’s the best way. The top of the root ball should be 1-2 inches above the ground.

Camellia is not the only plant that adds color to winter. The dainty flowers of the Lenten Rose, with dark green foliage in her cover of evergreen ground, are winter her garden darlings. Lenten Rose She begins to bloom in January and keeps flowers until spring. The flowers change color during flowering and eventually produce seed heads that re-seed profusely. If you prefer non-reseeding lenten roses, there are many new sterile varieties on the market.

You don’t have to give up the scent just because the temperature is low. The nodding yellow-flowered Edgeworthia scents the air. Daphnes are fun. The sweet pink flowers are deliciously fragrant.

Installing hard scaping in your garden becomes even more important in the winter, when the plants are dormant. Rocks and gravel paths, trellises, benches, and even sculptures can add focal points and whimsical notes.

Gardening manuals highlight seasonal plantings that are certainly beneficial to the winter landscape. Planting evergreen perennials is a great choice: cast iron plants, sedges (sedges), rhodes and ornamental ginger keep their foliage all winter long. Some ferns remain green even in cold weather. A little judicious pruning will keep evergreens looking beautiful all season long.

Leaving the seed heads in the cone-shaped flowers not only adds to the visual interest, but also makes a great treat for your feathered friend.

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Preparing for pruning

Winter is a good time to evaluate a garden with leafless trees and shrubs. Do trees need pruning? Need to move shrubs? Maybe add a nice focal point to your garden, or should you move or remove plants?

It’s winter dormancy, so the tree is ready for pruning. Look for dead, diseased, damaged or unsafe branches. Pruning a tree to maintain a certain size can mean that the right plant isn’t in the right place. Bring the limb back to the trunk and let the tree form an ugly hump. Crape myrtle should only be pruned to improve air circulation in the limbs.

If a gardener decides to prune a tree, it’s important to know how to do it properly. Once a limb is amputated, it cannot be restored. The correct procedure is determined by the size of the limbs. Step back after each cut.

Unless the ornamental shrub needs rejuvenating pruning, only one-third of the plant should be removed at a time.

Prune safely. Do not try to prune what is dangerous for the gardener. Never stand on a ladder with a chainsaw over your head. Be aware of personal limits. If your project seems too big, it probably is.leave the job to a professional

Shrubs such as ‘Limelight’ hydrangea and ‘Annabelle’ hydrangea can be pruned in late winter. Late winter is also an opportunity to prune “knockout” roses. Familiarize yourself with the May rules before heading to pruning. If the shrub blooms before May, prune it after May. If flowering after May, prune by May. There are exceptions. Check ACES.EDU (Alabama Extended System) to see when to prune.

spring is coming

Watching the signs of spring is a satisfying activity. Look for crocuses and start sticking your head out.

Pick a branch from an early-flowering plant (ornamental quince or forsythia) to force flowering.

Weeds can’t stop growing because of the cold weather. Winter weeds are tough. They can quickly take over a pansy-colored bed. A sunny winter day is the best time to get rid of these pests. Weed buckets have a lot of satisfaction.

Winter is a great time to scout bare plants for disease and insects. After identifying the problem and determining the extent of the problem, the gardener can choose the best solution for the plant and environment.

It’s time to prune grass such as Liriope before spring growth begins.

If your tools haven’t been cleaned and sharpened recently, winter is the perfect time to prepare for the busy spring season. Inventory your tool chest to see what needs replacing. If your budget allows, consider replacing gas-powered tools with battery-powered ones. Much better for the environment and gardeners.

It may sound tedious, but cleaning the pot can give spring a head start.

During the winter months before the spring rush begins, bring lawn mowers, weeders, pole saws, and other items that need repair to the store.

Plan your garden keeping in mind that you may need to rotate many crops. Start preparing your area by clearing away the weeds and old debris left over from last summer.

Some crops are planted during the cold season. Check ACES.EDU for the list.

Dozens of seed catalogs have arrived. they are joy Order early while the right options are available and choose plants that perform well in your climate and site conditions. Seeds can be winter started inside your home and all the supplies you need can be purchased online. You can. Refer to the package for dates to germination and determine when to plant the seeds so they are ready for transplanting. Early winter is ideal for ordering vegetables online to get your first choice It’s time. Many gardening sites encourage the practice.

Mulch your garden. Mulch is essential for healthy plants. Add about 2 to 3 inches of mulch so that the mulch does not hit the plant stem.

There is a new movement to have a “cluttered garden” to leave most of the debris and fallen leaves on the ground and provide winter shelter for insects and birds that need the plant material to survive during the winter. If you don’t want to create a “messy garden” all over your landscape, leave a place for beneficial insects to hide during the colder months.

Remove any remaining litter from the garden. Brighten up the pile of leaves that reveal the delicate fragility of spring.

watering is key

Water is necessary for plants to survive. According to the Clemson University Extension, “With adequate rainfall, established plants…usually require little or no additional irrigation in winter.

Exceptions to this rule include newly planted trees and shrubs, plants in containers during unusually dry winters… Root system development of newly planted shrubs may occur in the same soil as established plants. Inaccessible to volumetric moisture. Use the finger stick method (stick your finger into the ground to determine if the soil is wet or dry). Water when the soil is dry.

Remember your houseplants. Check for insects and diseases. One sick plant can infect a room full of plants. Baths that remove dust are good for plants.

It’s never too late to follow soil tests and recommendations.

“No winter wind can cool my gardening spirit.” — Blake Schreck

“Southern Gardener” Shelly Blanton writes about gardening for Aniston Star magazine. Please contact her at sblanton@annistonstar.com. Southern Her Gardener Her Aniston Her Star Follow her on her Facebook.

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