I love visiting gardens in the "off" season. It's a fantastic educational experience in garden design, to observe plants when they may not be as flashy or exciting as in the growing season. It's a good time to observe the bones of a garden. Do the deciduous shrubs and perennials offer winter structure or interest? What about evergreens? Do they support each other? While I love fall and winter blooms, I also love the opportunity to judge spring and summer-blooming plants without the distraction of flowers. Hearts are easily swayed by colorful blooms, but do they offer anything in other seasons? Seed heads? Attractive foliage? Interesting branch structure?
After the harsh (for the PNW) weather we've experienced for the last two months, this winter walk was even more educational. Mike, a skilled pruner, lead us through the garden and discussed strategies for assessing and managing plants damaged by this winter.
|I never appreciated green stems before planting a golden Leycesteria formosa in my own garden. This much larger plant at Joy Creek has a few stems broken by snow, but still provides lots of interest.|
While I did listen appreciatively, my eyes (and camera) were focused on seeking out winter interested, particularly evergreens, that I might incorporate into my own garden. The lowest temperature Mike noticed at the nursery was 11F, the same as my garden. On top of that, they got a whopping 18 inches of snow, more than twice the amount that fell on my plants. This makes Joy Creek an excellent place to evaluate plants for those of us that don't live in urban heat islands or other milder areas in the PNW. For different perspectives on the gardens, and some of Mike's talking points, visit The Danger Garden, The Rainy Day Gardener, and Flutter&Hum.
|Viburnum tinus, with a few brown flower buds but otherwise untouched by the harsh winter.|
|I love how the Hamamelis blooms are backed by a red-twig dogwood. The dogwood stems provide a backing for the witch-hazel, both making them more observable and creating a unique, fiery winter composition. Typical design advice would be to back the witch-hazel with an evergreen plant to make the flowers pop. Both solutions are good, but I liked the creativity here. This unique, inspiring combination is also my Wednesday Vignette, hosted by Anna at Flutter&Hum.|
|Winter can be bleak, but dramatic. This brown-on-grey hydrangea against cloudy skies allows texture and detail to shine through.|
|Garrya provide some of the best winter interest in the PNW. I believe this is G. x issaquahensis 'Glasnevin Wine'. I have three garryas, and adding more of these wonderful plants is high on my list of priorities this year.|
|I couldn't quite capture the beauty of this Viburnum, with its delicate, dark net of old inflorescences.|
|Mahonia repens is another plant on my priority list this year. This is a special selection from Far Reaches Farms, growing in the gardens at Joy Creek.|
|Hydrangeas are one of the specialties at Joy Creek. These macrophyllas are pruned annually to make them sturdy and prevent flopping in winter. It works!|
|A Euphorbia characias (I believe) turned purple by cold weather. Most of mine look like this, too.|
|The pink and white berries of Symphoricarpos orbiculatus look even more striking against the brown winter foliage.|
|A selection of Canada hemlock, perhaps Tsuga canadensis 'Gentsch White' has a touch of white frosting that glows against the older green needles, regardless of temperature. I much prefer this to actual frost or snow.|
|Beautiful flaking bark and lichen.|
Thank you again to everyone at Joy Creek for opening your garden and allowing us bloggers a much-needed opportunity to mingle and appreciate a beautiful garden. This has been a hard winter for all of us, and I'm not just talking about the weather. Now I'm eager for another winter garden visit. Where to next?