Winter Chill

It seemed like spring was just a few weeks away and then we have suddenly had a blast of winter with cold arctic air and brisk wind chill temperatures. It was -9 C. a few mornings ago. It is not that bad when you compare it to eastern Canada but it is really quite cold for the west coast. It seems to be sticking around so who knows when spring will come now.

winter garden

Well, it isn’t as bad as what this lady is dealing with. That is a lot of snow! She is resorting to gardening in a growing dome or greenhouse. At least I can still see the soil in places.

It is during these cold snaps that I do appreciate my garden more. The snow and frost covered perennials look quite beautiful. I like to leave some perennials standing through winter just to enjoy their snowy silhouettes. But in January it was so mild and it really seemed like spring was knocking at our door step so I began to cut back some grasses and perennials in preparation for spring. Good thing I am a bit of a procrastinator , as I still have quite a bit standing to enjoy.

Some of the best for standing up to snow and frost and looking quite beautiful in the winter light are Miscanthus grasses ‘Malepartus’ , ‘Yaku Jima’ and ‘Little kitten’. These grasses can get big , so give them some space. They are not runners or invasive here but will form a large clump eventually. For some smaller, more airy grasses , one of my favourites are Schizachyrium Little Bluestem Grasses – mainly ‘Blue Heaven’ and ‘The Blues’ or sometimes called ‘Prairie Blues’. Also, I love Switch grass – Panicum ‘Northwind’ and ‘Cloud Nine’. Both seem to stand up well to snow and frost and their inflorescence (flowers) sparkle in the winter light.

For perennials I love to leave sedum, echinacea and blackeyed susan. They all look lovely with little hats made of snow. Plus the birds, mainly chickadees, love the black eyed susan seed heads and eat them like crazy. I have been trying to get a picture of them but they always fly away when I come outside. So I took a picture of their footprints in the snow – it shows that they are all over the place looking for seeds. I feel good that I am able to provide food for them from my garden.

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It is hard to get things done in this kind of weather as a landscaper. At least it is sunny but I have had enough of winter now. I am already getting impatient for spring and warmer weather.

Get outside and Enjoy your garden in the winter weather… if it’s not too cold!

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(all photos taken by me in my garden in the Pacific Northwest)

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