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.

Strawberryindigo.