Winter is just around the corner! The days have begun to feel shorter as the sun sets earlier. The morning temperatures are dropping. Vibrant fall foliage has now been shed, and all flowers no longer have their petals. Winter is a transformative time when nature slows down. Colder temperatures and otherwise barren landscapes usually draw us indoors for most of the day. Even in winter there is growth, warmth, and beauty; so, do not retreat from the world. Instead look out your window, venture into crisp cool air, and slow down to embrace the season and grow.
Trees, shrubs, and perennials have gone dormant. Production of lush foliage and showy flowers have stopped as bare branches stand still. Energy is being stored. There is still beauty in their dormancy. Most upright perennials fade from green to golden tan and keep their shape. Karl Foerster grasses stand tall with their long grass like foliage to provide height in an otherwise barren landscape. Dried, spent flowers of Hydrangeas and Black-Eyed Susan keep their rounded forms for a unique shape to collect soft, fallen snow. There can still be color in dormancy as Dogwoods reveal bright red branches after shedding their leaves, which really pop out against a ground covered in white snow.
However not everything is dormant, evergreens continue to stand quietly with color and texture. They do not undergo the same dormancy that deciduous plants do for the winter; their growth rate slows down from what it would be in the warmer months. They were once minor characters in the landscape providing varying shades of green to allow brighter blossoming flowers to pop and stand out by contrast. Now in the winter, landscape evergreen trees and shrubs are prominent features displaying a variety of green color, long, short, thin, and thick-needled foliage.
By hanging on to the foliage in the winter, evergreens also create a windbreak from those harsh cold winter winds, especially when planted to the north and the west. Lines of evergreen trees or even evergreen hedges act as a wall blocking the northerly winds from directly blowing through the adjacent area, redirecting the winds around to the edges of the evergreens.
Even with protection from winter winds, we still need added warmth to be fully comfortable and enjoy the outdoors. Comfort can come from that down winter coat, some insulated waterproof boots, and soft knit gloves, anda beanie cap. Nature is comforted by a blanket of soft fallen snow that helps cover turf grass and plant root systems to insulate them from frigid temperatures.
It is truly tranquil to sit wrapped in a blanket with a warm mug in hand and fire melting snowflakes that float into its radiating warmth. If you are looking for heat from a fire pit,consider wood burning over gas. Wood provides a higher temperature burn than gas, which is more for ambiance.
Let us learn a lesson from nature, as our landscapes begin to winter and slow down. We can find beauty in tranquil stillness and stored energy, to only be rejuvenated and ready for the next seasonal transformation of spring.