When we first bought this house ten years ago, I was working full time through the winter months and so I didn't give much thought to what our yard looked like at this time of year. I wasn't home enough to look at it much in the daylight hours.
Also, we usually get a nice snow cover, which all by itself makes the little wooded patch behind our house look magical.
But not so this year. No snow and more time at home during the day have made me aware that our backyard needs some late winter oomph. So I pulled out my aged copy of Helen Van Pelt Wilson's "Color for Your Winter Yard & Garden" and re-read her wise words.
I have also been surfing the net, where all of these photos have come from. This yellow-flowered shrub is witch hazel. I have a red-blossomed variety in the front yard, but this variety might tuck in nicely at the edge of the woods in back.
Peering at other folks' yards can be another source for inspiration. What looks good RIGHT NOW in my neighbors' yards? Yellow-ish evergreens glow nicely on a gray late-winter day. I think I will look for some of those.
In the late winter, some shrubs, like red twig dogwood "color up" nicely before their leaves appear. Again, I have this in the front yard, but not where I can see it from inside. Helen Van Pelt Wilson advises planning a "look into" garden, choosing to place interesting plantings in places where you spend the most time looking out at them. She was a wise woman.
Conifers are not the only shrubs that stay green through the winter. I think hollies, rhododendrons, or similar shrubs will be on my shopping list this spring. Luckily, we are not bothered by deer here, as our backyard is mostly fenced in for the dogs, so I don't have that issue to deal with. Rabbits, though, are another matter.
The features that have brought color and much pleasure to our yard this winter have been the bird feeders. Placed near our dining room window (just as Helen Van Pelt Wilson advises) we watch cardinals, jays, woodpeckers, finches, winter wrens, nuthatches, chickadees, juncos, tufted tit-mice (yes, those are birds) coming and going as we eat our breakfast. And now that the robins, bluebirds, and red-winged blackbirds are back, I know it's time to think about gardening again.
North country gardeners, what looks good in your yard at this time of year? Please share your advice and inspiration.
Happy Easter to all.