December - Enjoying the Winter Garden
As Minnesotans, we learn to appreciate the cycle of northern gardening. The truth is, after putting the garden to bed for the season, the winter respite provides a chance to enjoy the garden in different ways. Read this article for thoughts about how to enjoy your garden in winter.
Over the years I’ve often exclaimed, “I wish I lived in zone 7 or 8!” Then I wouldn’t have to say good-bye to my gardens as winter arrives.
But over the same years, I’ve come to appreciate the cycle of northern gardening. The truth is, after putting the garden to bed for the season, the winter respite provides a chance to enjoy the garden in different ways.
Before the snow flies, make time to move any garden art or sculptures closer to your home’s windows. This will allow you to appreciate the light, shadows and snow accumulations on your art, as well as on standing vegetation, shrubs and tree branches during the snowy months. Now is also the time to make note of plants that may need to be moved, split or removed next spring. You will thank yourself in the spring for writing it down!
Watching the snow for animal tracks will help you learn more about the variety and habits of wildlife in your area (12 weeks of winter: The scoop on scat | UMN Extension). You can use the cold weather downtime to read some great gardening books (Gift Idea: Good Books for Minnesota Gardeners (umn.edu) or Books that created conversation in 2021 | UMN Extension). And nothing tastes better in the middle of winter than a warm muffin baked from the garden rhubarb you froze last June! (Using your harvest | UMN Extension).
If you are really missing the dirt under your fingernails, try an indoor herb garden, or make a winter window box or front entry pot. Taking care of your garden tool maintenance is also a valuable task during frigid weather. (Clean and disinfect gardening tools and containers | UMN Extension).
Get the family involved and combat the dark days by making beautiful winter luminaries. It’s a fun and rewarding project for everyone, and will brighten your yard and garden areas.
As you take that winter vacation to warmer destinations, don’t forget about the reciprocal garden admission program for Minnesota Landscape Arboretum members. Reciprocal Admissions Program – American Horticultural Society (ahsgardening.org). You’ll find the visit sparking your excitement for another season of northern gardening after the well deserved winter break.
Photo credits: University of Minnesota Extension (1, 3), Torange.biz (2)