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My Garden in Winter


By Veronique Hval

As I am watching a little colony of chickadees pecking at the lawn through the French doors, flashbacks of the past months are rushing back to my mind: the deliciously endless Indian Summer followed by the abrupt freezing weather of early November. Mother Nature switched her August temperatures to what felt like “Winter” literally overnight.

I can still picture the gold leaves of the chestnut & birch trees, the rose hips gorged with sunshine, and the sweet fragrance from the apple trees… fall in the Pacific Northwest. Such a show of contrasts: plump clouds chasing each other in the immensity of the sky, the dramatic profile of the Olympics against the vibrant blue of Puget Sound…

While the thought of moving to exotic lands tempts me every so often, I am constantly reminded of how blessed we are to enjoy the cadence of seasons with its kaleidoscope of colors and mild temperatures.

Fall is the time to get re-acquainted with the garden and plan for the next blooming season by reassessing the over-crowded borders and doing a major sprucing up. This year, I let my patches of verbena go wild; so, on one sunny October morning, I decided to pull everything out. Neighbors walking by were worried that I had gone mad! After the major cleanup, the front yard looked somewhat empty. Local stores offered splendid Halloween and Thanksgiving displays, so I decided to decorate the bare ground with colorful pumpkins and potted chrysanthemums in festive shades of oranges and reds.

It is rare to find any room for new planting in the garden
( everything is so tightly planted), so this latest clearing up means upcoming visits to specialty nurseries for exciting new ground covers & bulbs (like blue forest anemones & white snowdrops as well as a new fragrant azalea and tree peony perhaps… stay tuned.)

Fast forwarding to January, the soil is now peacefully resting before the next growth surge in March & April. The air is permeated with a fresh scent of fir trees mixed with the sweet fragrance of the unassuming Sarcococca (reminiscent of jasmine.)
Strolling around the yard with a wicker basket and shears, I love to glean camellia and forsythia that will be invited to blossom inside ahead of their natural blooming season. These winter favorites remind me of my mother.

To all, happy new year in the garden and our Gem of the Sound!

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