Winter garden devastation

Winter: the season that tries many a gardener.  And what devastation it can bring.   We in The Pacific Northwest are fortunate enough to live in a rather mild climate, but winter does pay us a visit to varying degrees every year.  Some years an early cold snap strikes and kills off a few stunned victims. Last winter it was a beloved lavender and two pineapple sages.  Other forgotten plants in lost memory haunt the cold shadows and depths of the winter garden.

I must confess: my interest in gardening does wane this time of year.  Nothing much grows and its damn cold so I spend more time inside.  This leads me to feel guilty as the harsh season proceeds with itself and ravages the garden. I see pictures upon pictures of regal well-appointed winter gardens with  an amazing structure of tidy Evergreens dusted with sparkling snow. Everything is so cozy, so tidy….

I always plan to prepare for winter but… well,  those plans usually don’t pan out as more pressing matters arrive and thus my garden enters winter unkempt and wild. I watch as autumn’s tender leftovers; the jeweled nasturtiums and snapdragons turn to frozen flower pops after the first round of freezes.

Cold Snapdragon survivors

 Leaves litter the grass and the beds, never raked up.  Potted plants remain lining the driveway. Discarded yard art sits barren. The tiny Buddha statue looks cold and all alone, standing in a patch of frozen Sedum. Its companions, the colorful sprays of Viola and Marigold have gone, so have the stately Susans, leaving behind only Black- eyed seed heads sitting atop willowy stems, half eaten by birds and standing like sentinels along the rocky outline of the empty flower bed.

Black Eyed Susan in December
Black eyed Susans last August

I enter by the side gate crunching on frozen grass, surveying  the wreckage with dreams of last seasons color in my head. Unlike last season, so far, this has been one of the milder ones.  Lots of sun and with little rain, it is mid December but I see some flowers still in bloom:  A hardy fuchsia reigns supreme here, its smallish pink and purple blooms still attracting the odd hummingbird in this late season.

The Fuchsia

Despite my neglect, life goes on.  Nature is in command here, not me.  I am but a caretaker that’s fallen down on the job, but as I said, life goes on.  It is what we make of it as it does.  I survey the skeletons and ghosts of last summer.  All this empty space allows me to envision to plan for next years garden.  I smile as I pass the empty spot near the deck where two rose bushes will go, I can smell them already.

Old summer guilt is replaced with the hope for the future.   A cold wind blows across my path reminding me that winter has yet to officially arrive.  I step inside with my plans, my dreams and my little schemes, vowing to enjoy the winter and all of its glorious devastation knowing that it is out of this which brings the promise of spring.

I am reminded of a favorite quote:

“Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.”

John Muir

Wishing you a Beautiful Season.


Author: Strawberryindigo

A starry-eyed dreamer and adventurer of the imagination. I am a feisty Aspie exploding with colorfully creative energies.

15 thoughts on “Winter garden devastation”

  1. What will you plant this year? When is it time for you to plant? (I just started my seeds two weeks ago. Not in the ground yet. But we’re in the deep south, so this coming week!)
    And thanks for the comment on my blog. So good to hear your city recycles so much, even the food waste. It gives me great hope.


    1. Hey Jennifer. How lucky you are to be planting so early. I have started some beans and marigold (inside) and plan on snow peas and maybe some lettuce in a month or so. Only cool weather crops for a while. I have always wondered about your sort of climate and what does well there. What are you planting? Who knows with global warming maybe I’ll be planting lemon trees one of these days. (I have a fantasy about living among orange and lemon groves.)
      Thanks for coming by, it is always nice to talk to a fellow gardener.


      1. Everything does well here. We can plant year round. It’s crazy! I planted lima beans, cowpeas, peppers, tomato, corn, squash, cucumber, even my okra came up as cool as it is. But that’s just the first round! I have orange trees in my yard and a grapefruit, and a pear. I’d send you one if I could!


        1. Jennifer, I am soooo jealous. I get a little ansy in the winter. I would love to grow year round…especially citrus. I have never seen a grapefruit tree before. I bet it smells nice, like the orange tree. One of these days I would love to have a greenhouse. I probably would practically live out there if I did. I bet you eat well with all that wonderful fresh food year round. 🙂


          1. I hear you with that greenhouse. If I had one, I’d live in it too! We do eat well. But we get tired of the citrus! How terrible is that! But you can only eat so many grapefruits and oranges. I give them away by the bagfull. I don’t want them to be wasted!! I guess I should juice more….


  2. Thank you for liking my blog! I love this post about the winter garden. That’s one thing about where I live in southern California — you never get a break, in a way, because something is always in season. Winter is my favorite growing season because we actually get some rain and it is not too hot to be outside. Right now I am growing peas, chard, collards, herbs, some bulbs, onions, carrots, beets — and a few sweet pea flowers are starting to come in now.
    Nice blog!


    1. Hello explorergarden: I envy your long growing season and your sweet peas. I love sweet peas. I don’t know why but I just love their scent. I think it reminds me of childhood. Thanks for stopping by and for the comment. I have always thought that gardeners were nice people and you have confirmed that.


  3. You know, I would actually LOVE to do some gardening at this time of the year. I have recently been having strong urges to be close to nature and close to earth, and I live in an area where every house has a garden. Unfortunately, I only have a balcony!


  4. Isn’t it funny how in well-composed photos like yours, the winter is as visually compelling as its opposite? I think these are quite striking.
    (Perhaps it helps that I can’t feel the outside temperature of when the pictures were taken.)



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