Monday, November 19, 2007

A Beautiful Garden All Year Round

is something that most gardeners hope for. Although it is possible to have flowers for most ( if not all) months of the year, it is not the flowers alone that make a garden beautiful and interesting. On the contrary, many things are far more important than mere flowers in the garden. Don't get me wrong, I love flowers like the next person, probably more so, but there's more to making a garden look good than flowers alone.

If you live in a temperate climate zone like me, you can have flowers in abundance for 6 months of the year. The rest of the year the garden is either growing (spring) or in decline (autumn) and both seasons can give you quite a few blooms too. That leaves us with 2 months where not a lot seems to be happening in the garden (December and January) and most shrubs, plants and trees look about as interesting as paint drying. It's in those months that the garden is stripped back to its bare bones and beauty, true beauty is all about bone structure (same as with humans).

Part of the bones of the garden are hard materials such paving materials, decking and fences but plants can also form a part of the skeleton of your garden.

Here I've used box as ornaments and as a hedge, to separate the plants from the paving.
Box is an evergreen and is used in my garden a lot.
Now that many plants are disappearing the box balls are coming to the fore and give structure and interest to my garden during the winter season. They also provide rhythm, as 2 balls are planted at the foot of each pyramid (repetition is the name of the game).
It's amusing to see how much the box stands out now, while during summer they were hardly noticeable.

In my front garden I've used box to form rectangular flower beds. The box edging gives structure to the garden and it's good for providing winter interest to. Here it is combined with a hedge of Berberis (barberry) and with white lavender.
That way I have always at least 3 colours in my garden: green, grey and burgundy red which is great when there isn't much else to look at in the garden.

But you can use other plants for winter interest too, just look at my kitchen garden hedge of Fagus sylvatica.
Those pretty brown leaves will stay on all winter long and contrast nicely with the green of the other hedges and lawn. An added bonus is that these hedges will also provide some shelter against the cold winds for the first seedlings in early spring.

As it is nice to look at something pretty in the garden during wintertime, I've put my garden table in front of the living room window and dressed it up a bit. And I've hung the pergola, where once the grapes were growing, full of stuff to feed the birds. It's great fun to look at birds in the garden, especially when not a lot else is going on.
Making sure that your garden has excellent bones is important, but there's nothing wrong with adding a bit of decoration here and there just to brighten things up a bit.

copyright 2007: Y.E.W. Heuzen

The satisfaction of a garden does not depend upon the area, nor, happily, upon cost or rarity of plants. It depends upon the temper of the person. One must first seek to love plants and nature, and then to cultivate that happy peace of mind which is satisfied with little.
L.H. Bailey, Garden-Making, 1808


Connie said...

Yes, Yolanda....your garden has great 'bones'!
I love the box and barberry hedges and the shape and contrast they offer.

guild_rez said...

Hello Yolanda,
thank you for your comment on my blog about scanning flowers..
Your cats: My grandchildren loved your kitty pictures a lot.
Thank you for posting them.
Gardeners work with an ever-receding ideal of perfection; no sooner is something growing well than they see how to place it better or give it a better neighbour. Isn't that the truth??
cheers Gisela

shirl said...

Hi there, Yolanda :-)

I completely agree with you about the structure of a winter garden. I love to see the garden at this time especially after a light dusting of snow :-D

I know what you mean about the box too - I'm starting to rediscover some of mine too. I really love the variety of our seasons don't you :-D

marl1 said...

Even afstrepen: Buxus- yep. Beuk- yep Vogelsnackjes-yep. Berberis- nee, wel pruikenboom (is nog in blad!) bijna spooky dus....;-))))

Brimstone said...

Dat is het aantrekkelijke van een wintertuin: de vormen weer kunnen zien, zoals je ze bedoeld had.

Kylee said...

I would love to use boxwood more, but while it's supposed to be hardy here, maybe it will be and maybe it won't. It depends on the winter we have. I know there are more hardy varieties and I'm going to check into that, because I have some areas where I'd love to use it.

I do have barberry and plan to make more use of it next spring.

Great post!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Hi Yolanda, I can't agree more with the first two sentences of your post.

I really need to have some more evergreens in my garden for winter interest.

Your garden is lovely even during winter.

Pam/Digging said...

Very good advice. I know we'll enjoy seeing your pretty garden all winter.

jodi said...

Wise advice on bones from a very wise gardener. I love that your fagus doesn't lose its leaves. Ours had them blow away about a month ago, but it's also a very young plant and maybe in coming years they'll hold longer.

SchneiderHein said...

Hallo Yolanda,
auch die kahlen Wintermonate im Garten können reizvoll sein: Nun kommen die Strukturen des Gartens wieder zur Geltung und es gibt mehr Platz für das 'DekoGerümpel'. So kann man sich eigentlich jede Jahreszeit im Garten schön gestalten. Und wenn dann erst Eis und Schnee alles verhüllen, genieße ich das auch ein paar Tage - nur hoffentlich dauert es dann nicht zu lange...
Liebe Grüße Silke

Robin's Nesting Place said...

I really like your quote. I also like that you have your bird feeding station so close to the house. Isn't the seed mess bothersome though? I may move one of mine closer for the winter, if the mess isn't too bad. I'd love watching the birds up close.

I had never really given much thought to winter interest in the garden. That is, until last year when the first grass I planted provided me with such immense pleasure during the winter months. I planted several more this year and also planted several arborvitae to provide evergreens to the landscape.

karin a said...

You are totally agree with you! There are so much more than flowers. I don't have that much box - yet - but I've started to plant that. Like the evergreen more and more.

The weather now is normal. Not that cold anymore (but night frost some nights) and more fog and rain. Have a nice day! :)

karin a said...

Hehe...I must be a little bit tired! Just saw what I wrote. Well, I hope you understand my funny english... :)

lenie said...

het groene skelet , noem ik het !
maar houdt meer in , je hebt het helemaal goed ! Al die ingredienten zijn top voor een vogeltuin , zie je daar veel vogels ??? kuddes fazanten ???whahahahahahahahaha heb zo gelachen ...blijft een hoendersoort natuurlijk ;))dus die kip ...ach ja soort zoekt soort !

Reflection Through The Seasons said...

Hello Yolanda.....
I have enjoyed reading this post and yes, I do agree with all you say. Also, at this time of year, when the leaves are falling, different vistas are opened up to view. I have a lot of trees that surround my garden and I love them, but they do hide some beautiful views, so right now I am enjoying more of the mountain scenery.

I love boxwood too and had a lot of pleasure growing a complete hedge of it from cuttings. Marion

Marie said...

Your garden is beautiful even in the fall!Enjoy!

Have a nice day :o)

A wildlife gardener said...

Talking about having good bones and structure in the garden, Yolanda, made me think of this quote from H. E. Bates.

'Gardens should be like lovely, well-shaped girls: all curves, secret corners, unexpected deviations, seductive surprises and then still more curves.' :)

I loved the post about the fantastic Vita, her love-life and all her progeny. At the end, the smile on my face resembled that of the Cheshire cat :)

The post on your Autumn blooms is an excellent example of how to prolong the flowering season in the garden. :)

Libbys Blog said...

'Box' something to add to my garden!!!

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

It seems that the more formal styled gardens, such as yours, are more attractive in winter. It is a challenge for me to incorporate structure into my semi-anarchic semi-wild gardens. Winter interest is also a major challenge when the garden is buried under several feet of snow. Only the larger shrubs & trees show. I do have Box, but I use it more informally.

Carol said...

Yolanda... while you have just December and January with nothing blooming, I have November and February, too. Your garden looks amazing, as always.

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

Betty said...

How pleasant to find a comment on my Thanksgiving blog just now.

You have beautiful bones in your garden but then I would expect no less of you.

In our winter, shrubs and trees are the only things going for us. Other than those we just see brown, brown, brown grass....

A very Happy Thanksgiving to you...Betty

mss @ Zanthan Gardens said...

Yolanda, your garden is beautiful throughout the year and always an inspiration.

Naturegirl said...

Lovely Yolanda and very interesting!!
I would never of thought of the Barberry used as a hedge! Thankyou for these wonderful examples of winter ~bones~ in the garden...hugs NG

Gadisa said...

wat ziet je tuin er heerlijk gezellig uit, vooral de laatste 2 foto's ...een waar paradijsje voor de vogels!

Hannele said...

Very nice, structure is very importante.

Richtsje said...

Wat heerlijk, tuinfoto's weer... Zag ik ook jou en je tuin in de Tuin&Co, ja toch zeker??

Carolyn gail said...


As a garden designer my very first priority is the "bones" of the garden. You have done a splendid job of illustrating the importance of structure. Although I have a small urban garden it still has interest in the winter with the different shapes of the deciduous shrubs mixed with the evergreens.

Note to Kylee-over in Ohio you most certainly can grow boxwood and the variety to choose is Buxus Microphylla ( Korean boxwood ) or Buxus Glencoe 'Chicagoland Green '.

Kylee said...

Thank you, Carolyn, for doing my research for me! The boxwood we have on the north side of the house has seen better days (it was here when we bought the house in 1977), but I do like it. I'll look for those that you mentioned.

kate said...

Your garden has a great bone structure - very beautiful. I like the way you've used the box in different ways. The pyramids are striking as are the square hedges.

Putting the garden table in front of the living room window is a great idea. I like the pots of different sizes!

Bert said...

Hi Yolanda,

With all those evergreens and structures your garden looks nice the whole year.
So, keep up the good work.



Nicholaas W. said...

We Live in Michiagn, and I would like to have a bunch of flowers ready for picking throught all the months of the summer, and utumn possibly! Could you give me some advice on how to do that, , and if yes, what flowers etc.? You seem like a real expert! HELP! Thanks and I await your response!