Does your garden 'go to sleep' in the winter?

lavender_lass(4b)January 1, 2014

I noticed on the Antique Rose forum that many people live in climates that allow them to garden almost all year round. There are also many, who are worried about drought...and they have to maintain their gardens all the time.

While it would be nice to spend time in the garden more often, I have to admit...I like that my garden 'goes to sleep' from late October until April. No matter how hot and dry the late summer gets (and it can be both) we know the fall rains and winter snow will give everything a fresh start for spring.

One thing I've noticed...this time of year makes me appreciate all the evergreens we have on our property and I'm thinking about adding some more in the gardens, to give the place a bit more green. Maybe I'm being a bit whimsical, but they seem to watch out over the other plants, while they sleep :)

So, right now I'm planning what I hope to do in the spring and looking forward to all the bulbs and even the dandelions blooming this spring. What about you? Does your garden grow all year round, or does it like to sleep in the winter?

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This is LL's mom. She is posting for me, to say hi and I'm glad to join your cottage garden group!

I'll be back later, on my own computer.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2014 at 3:57PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

And a great big welcome to you Garden Peggy, so nice to finally 'meet' LL's mom.
"Does your garden 'go to sleep' in the winter? You betcha, gives me time to reflect on what worked what didn't. Form my attack approach to the coming season, after the year I've had my garden needs a serious tuneup.
Several shrubs that have grown out of proportion in the space they were given sooooo, hack, (prune hard for those that shudder at the term hack) to the ground, if they come back great, if not shrug, replace. I will be doing a lot of revamping in the spring, now, as long as these old bones hold up to what is whirling around in the ol noggin I'll be one happy camper :>).


    Bookmark   January 1, 2014 at 6:35PM
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Welcome garden_peggy!! Happy to read your garden post. This is generally a friendly group of gardeners with untold numbers of lurkers who enjoy the posts without ever commenting.

Here in southern New England, my garden sleeps through the cold months but awakens once the Hellebores/Lenten roses begin to bloom in late winter. They're followed by bleeding heart, Virginia bluebells, brunnera, lady's mantle & a host of other early-season bloomers. Crocus, puschkinia & grape hyacinth have naturalized and each spring they colorize the winter-fatigued lawn. Dozens of daffodils + hyacinths add their smiling faces to welcome the longer hours of daylight.

Every year my garden gives back to me what I've given it.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2014 at 10:32PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

The garden never really stops here. It's 48f out there today. It slows down but if you look at the 'Last picture of the year' thread you'll see that I still have some summer flowers hanging while at the same time the bulbs and first primroses are beginning to show. We also have winter bloomers like Winter Jasmine, Mahonia, Prunus subhirtella, etc which will flower in the depths of winter in milder spells.

It has its drawbacks though. I really ought to be digging the allotment over as it is covered in weeds which keep growing through the winter. But it's far too wet out there.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 5:30AM
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Welcome to the forum, Garden Peggy, I hope you'll enjoy our group!

When you speak of evergreens for winter interest, LL, it brings to mind a post made years ago by an older gardener (like me), hope it isn't against the rules for me to copy:

(Only read this essay if gardening is your passion and you want to continue gardening to the �bitter end.")
When I began serious gardening at the age of 23, I was as strong as a peasant woman. On week-ends I could garden for 10 to 12 hours with nary a sore muscle or aching joint. Before and after work on week days I would even put in an hour or two of hard work with no sore bones. But once I hit the age of 50, things began to creak, moan and pain me. At the age of 52 I got a bad case of vertigo which lasted two weeks. I was bedridden with this for one week, flat on my back. This is when it dawned on me, "Since I am not that super woman of age 23 how would I take care of my extensive garden if some physical problem really limits me in working in my garden?� I was especially thinking of this physical problem called "aging.� I am now, way over 50, (older than Martha Stewart) and feel like 101,sometimes.
I do not want to be one of those older gardeners who whine and lament: "I cannot work in my garden any more. It is too much for me. I can't bend, dig, weed, trim or plant like I did years ago. I do not have the stamina and energy. I get too sore working in the garden. My garden looks a mess. I must remove most of the plants and go back to just grass. Annuals are too much work. Perennials need too much cutting back and separating. Are my gardening days over? And finally, should I sell my property and move."

Truthfully, all of the above statements are a reality for most older gardeners. Our bones do hurt us. Our bodies do slow down. We can not do what we did 30 years ago. So what are we to do? If gardening makes you happy and you do not wish to give it up, Plan for your older gardening days. How do you plan for your older gardening days? You do this by planning and planting a garden that looks beautiful in the Winter. These two can go hand in hand. This article is mainly written for gardeners in the Northeast U.S., zones 5-6-7-8.
Planting a garden to look beautiful in three seasons and also in the winter means you must plant flowering shrubs, conifers, evergreen trees and deciduous trees that look especially good in the winter. It might be their bark, shape or color. Your winter garden should invite you to want to be in it even though the weather is cold or snowy. You must have enough interest and structure in your garden that it beckons to you to want to sit, walk around, and even putter in it even though the garden is dormant. This is very possible and the way I planned my garden. Let me tell you about my philosophy of winter gardening which is also my philosophy of gardening now that I am much older than 23."

My garden is dormant, about the only thing green are my rose bushes and oak trees. But, come March, and here we go again!

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 2:26PM
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Another welcome to you Garden Peggy!

My garden is buried under snow for usually about 3 or 4 months and is dormant for about 5 months. So I do plant for interest both when it is dormant, but also when there are 3 or 4 feet of snow on the ground.

There is a bed of mostly perennials and roses in front of part of this row of hemlocks. In summer the trees just provide a dark backdrop, but in winter when the beds disappear, the trees are the stars.
From December 30, 2013

This bed, planted to block a work area from the main entry drive, is a riot of perennials in the summer, but has interest before snow falls during those cold but usually snowless months of November and December
From December 2010

From December 2010

But also when there is snow on the ground.
From December 2010

I use the winter time to get into the woods on skis or snowshoes without any bugs, to research plants for the next gardening season, and to spend time on non-gardening pursuits that I really ought to have done during the growing season.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 9:01PM
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gottagarden(z5 western NY)

nhbabs - ooooh what a lovely winter view. I love your evergreens - blue spruce, arborvitae, Norway spruce? and others. They give a focal point in the often barren winter landscape.

lavender lass - my garden sleeps from Nov through March, usually under a blanket of snow, so I can't go out in the dirt even if I wanted to. When it melts, its goopy wet.

I like having a "vacation" from my garden, so I can do other things. Like take care of my house, which gets neglected all during the growing season. The garden is always a priority, so I need some time off to catch up on other things. I used to live in CA and have a year round garden. I prefer the winter and the break it provides.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 4:36PM
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Ditto gottagarden's last paragraph. Even tho I do enjoy my garden and all the work, I look forward to and need the break.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 11:49AM
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Welcome to the forum Peggy and I guess you know we love pictures and would like to see your garden!

I like that my garden goes to sleep in the winter from November til March when it is covered with snow. What I like the best is that the cold means we have fewer noxious bugs survive so don't have the problems with insects during the growing season that gardeners in the south do. I also like having a break from the hard work of gardening as there are other things I like to do that I don't have time for during the summer.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 12:24PM
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Gottagarden - The main conifers in the bed are Picea pungens/ blue spruce 'Fat Albert', Thuja occidentalis/arborvitae 'Techny', and 'Sunkist', (and a T. occidentalis 'Rheingold' that is still too small to have much effect.) There are also several different rhododendrons and a hardy clumping bamboo which stays green. This is about the only bed I've planned out. It needed to provide interest year round and I wanted the evergreens and trees to stay betweeen 6' and 15' for many years to distract from DH's wood stash behind it while not shading out the solar panels further back. Eventually I'll need to remove at least some of the 'Fat Alberts.' The perennials are mostly around the edges with clematis growing on the shrubs, so there is a lot of color and a whole different feel in the summer.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 8:41AM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

This year I have Fuchsias still hanging on while the first flowers of 2014 are just starting. Definitely no going to sleep this year - just dozing lightly. Iris unguicularis opened 2 days ago.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 12:52PM
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Thanks for the photo, floral_UK. So nice to see a currently blooming flower. As much as I love the winter break from gardening, I do miss seeing growing things. I hope that you are OK with not having a break.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 8:27PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

I'm fine with not having a complete break. Except the slugs don't take a break either when we have a mild spell. The Iris in the picture is no more - it was eaten in the night ;-(

I think our whole gardening year is different. Although we keep doing a bit all winter the summer is less frenetic than most of yours I believe. There is a long spring, a comparatively cool summer and a long autumn so the windows for seed sowing, cultivation and garden tidying are much longer and more relaxed. The contrast between too cold to sow and too hot to grow is less marked.

This post was edited by floral_uk on Sun, Jan 12, 14 at 13:12

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 7:25AM
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memo(Zone 4B Nebraska)

My garden "sleeps" from October through April. Things begin to warm up in May and I can't plant until June with the threat of late freeze. And I'm happy to have the break in gardening. My housework also suffers in the summer and I need the time to sew and do handy work, to cook and bake, to can and preserve. I wouldn't feel well rounded without the other things that are part of my life if all I could do was garden. nhbabs, your garden in winter is beautiful. I keep attempting something similar but we've had too much serious drought the past couple of years and my trees keep dying. One of these years mother nature and I will be in sink as they say and we'll get it done and off to a good start.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 12:00AM
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