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When winter normally makes everything seem dark and drab, a winter garden is the perfect solution. Now, a winter garden need not be one that “flowers” but rather one cleverly designed to allow animal viewing during colder months. For example, if you have a bird feeder or tiered areas in your garden, these make perfect spots for leaving treats for birds and squirrels. Just sit at your window and enjoy!

For greenery, include some ever greens, dogwood, holly, and other cooler zone plants that will accept the colder temperatures with grace. The only caution is to provide support for small bushes that can snap under the weight of heavy snow. Some people accomplish this with wire supports hidden under the branches, which neatly allows all the beauty of the bush to show through. And for ground cover, you can use either colored stone or landscaping product, or look to ivy, periwinkle or juniper. English ivy in particular seems to handle winter wonderfully.

Winter Garden
Winter Garden

In setting up your winter garden, find a spot that will get as much sun as possible throughout the winter months. Till the soil thoroughly for the best possible aeration an drainage. If need be, add in organic matter to provide complete nourishment to the soil and plants.

In arranging plants, give them more space than you would a summer garden. This helps prevent various diseases. If you’re concerned about potential hard freeze damage, this space can also hold a layer of hay or mulch to help keep the root beds a little warmer and protect smaller stems. Also take care with fall pruning efforts. You don’t want to cut away so much that there’s nothing left to give shape to the garden. And if you include any plants that do loose all their foliage in winter, many gardeners look to tiny light fixtures as temporary “leaves” for night time beauty.

For those plants that you know will die out over winter, you can extend their growing season by covering them on nights when frost is expected. Near those, make sure to plant some early growing flowers (bulbs) so that the time between the last blossom of Fall and the first of spring is greatly reduced. Good fertilization (composting) also seems to improve early sprouting efforts. Use those left over pine needles and leaves from the Autumn to help with that effort, and give your winter garden a natural but finished look.


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