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A blanket of snow covers the gardens now, bird baths turned into ice, evergreen boughs are frosted white; winter is here. Even in winter the garden is beautiful. Annabelle and Limelight hydrangea, coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, Joe-Pye weed, sedum, asters, and grasses are all standing in my garden now providing food for the birds. I love the simplicity of dried seed heads covered with snow. I haven’t seen any visitors yet, but I added a bird bath in the boxwood garden that can be plugged in to keep the water from freezing.

In winter the garden rests and so do I; no more gardening chores. I catch up on reading. I reread my gardening journal from past months. It’s like a diary and contains names of plants I liked that I want to repeat in vases or containers, I have notes on projects that we’ve completed such as: creating a vegetable garden using raised beds and on projects I’d like to do. I also read gardening books and keep notes from the books in my journal on important information such as: when and how to cut back certain plants and attractive plant combinations I want to remember, there’s also a section in the back of my journal that lists my garden resources.

Last winter one of the books I read was: Suzy Bales’ Down-to-earth Gardener. Suzy’s rules for gardening made me smile: “When in doubt, sow alyssum. If you don’t know it, don’t pull it. Wise gardeners plant common flowers.” In spring I have to remember to be patient. Many plants reseed themselves, sometimes transported from one garden to another by birds or animals; sometimes I pull out green shoots then later discover they were potential flowers.

Two new gardening books I will read this winter are: The Pruning Book by Lee Reich which contains color photos and detailed drawings of how to prune trees, bushes, vines and plants and The Layered Garden by David L. Culp. David’s book has beautiful photographs of his Brandywine Cottage garden, in all seasons, showing us how to weave different plants and have layers of interest every month of the year.

A Garden of One’s Own by Elsa Bakalar is a book I treasure; it is one of the books I use as a reference. Years ago I was lucky enough to meet Elsa and visit her gardens. I went with my garden mentor, Janie. One thing I learned from Elsa was how important compost is when planting. Every spring I put a few shovels of compost mixed with organic fertilizer around each plant; and I add compost to the bottom of every planting hole before I add the plant. Elsa Bakalar was born in England, taught school in New York City and later lived in Massachusetts. I have fond memories of meeting Elsa and seeing her garden; she was a master gardener and her artistic gardens were charming.

Today winter snow is shimmering under a robin’s egg blue sky, but winter in Connecticut can be long and snowy; flowers and candles warm even the coldest day. xxoo

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