The easiest, most maintenance free element of winter garden interest has to be the hardscape, the non living bits and pieces that never change. You set them there, they sit there, as my English teacher grandmother used to say. In colder climates, they will need to be frost proof. Statuary and art, home made or store bought, sometimes gifts from friends and family give depth of meaning and stir fond memories of travels and cherished folks. Placement is important, but don’t fret too much about something referred to as “good taste”. If you like it, that is all that matters. If your eye prefers to be bombarded with stuff, so be it, it is your garden, after all. Let not the opinions of others color your creativity! Besides, most things can be moved or changed later on, if you evolve to a more minimalist attitude, as I have. Don’t laugh, now, it’s not polite, as my grandmother would say. Added: The whole story about the Bongo Congo family can be read by clicking here-A Little Whimsy In The Garden.
Reinforced concrete or high temperature fired glazed pottery can also remain in place all through the year in our zone 7a garden. Containers needn’t have plantings to be attractive eye catchers, but the effort has been made to have some evergreen type things in the ones seen from inside the house. Hypertufa troughs withstand wintry blasts well and mosses have planted themselves for some welcome green velvet during cold months. Even as some of the permanent plantings go dormant, the moss comes to the forefront in fact, on our north facing slope.
Metal is a good material for artistic sculptures or rusty old garden implements, even found objets d’art. Old barrel rings, automobile brake shoes, old wire cylinders protecting a tiny fig tree with an insulating blanket of leaves are interesting and good conversation starters. They add character and age to a brand new garden. A few well placed plantings, or simply gravel and some rocks complete the tableau.
Pathways and walls, stepping stones and fences are central to the look and feel of a garden space, no matter the size. Besides offering safe and dry transport, the lines of straight or curvy carry the eye to the far reaches of the garden, sometimes hiding what lies just behind that shrub.
There is one piece of real art in the Fairegarden, a birthday gift from The Financier. It was a surprise while we were living in Texas for my fiftieth birthday. The story of its providence has been lifted from one of our very first blog posts:
One of the nicest and bestest birthday gifts from my better half was this iron pineapple sculpture purchased during our three year stay in Texas, in a suburb half an hour north of Houston. The garden purchasing choices in that area were a shopaholic’s nirvana. Exquisite plants, pots and potions were readily available from multiple sites, each more fun than the next. Expeditions into Houston were frequent although the driving side of those trips were stomach churning, not for the faint of braking ability. At a favorite haunt in town, while on another pleasant foray of plants and lunch, my dear friend Ulana and I went to a native plant shop, Another Place In Time. Right at the entryway was this outrageous black metal pineapple covered in purple velvet species petunias. Jokingly the remark was made that this would be the perfect birthday present, then peering at the price tag, oops, no way, too expensive, never mind. The birthday arrived, we had a friend (Ralph, who hosted Gail and me during our England trip) staying with us who was video taping the garden to show his wife back home and I was giving the official tour. A wonderful stone planter was on the patio, one that had been admired while on a look see trip onto town with MBH (now known as The Financier). Gushing happily with gratitude for the lovely container on camera, the tour continued. We covered the perimeter of the small garden, and entered the jungle in the middle, the grotto it was called. Standing proudly was the pineapple, blending beautifully with the white azaleas, R. Mrs G. G. Gerbing. Tears were flowing, totally surprised, caught on tape, a moment of extreme happiness! Ulana, you are a jewel. This is a large awkward piece and the welds could not hold during the move from Tx to Tn, it is held together with rebar driven into the ground , but this bit of black in the garden is prized above all others.
Click here-Color In The Garden-Part Three to see the entire post and the photo featuring the pineapple sculpture.
This is the final post in the series How To Have Winter Interest. As the solstice comes and goes bringing longer days and warmer sun angles, ever so slowly, let us enjoy our gardens as changes abound. Various plantings can help us get through these cold times. Colorful ground covers and grasses, evergreen trees and shrubs and the ever important hardscape all offer something to gaze upon while we wait…
Links for the rest of the How To Have Winter Interest series of posts are listed below. They can also be accessed by clicking on the How To Category of the sidebar.
How To Have Winter Interest With Non Green Evergreens
How To Have Winter Interest -Garden Grasses
How To Have Winter Interest-Seeing Green
How To Have Winter Interest-Shrubs Small And Large
How To Have Winter Interest-The Big Guys
For other posts written by Fairegarden, look for How To on the sidebar page listing or click here.