Soon spring will be here, and we’ll be called out into the rush and flurry of tending to our plants and beds. While this is a welcome period for sure, it’s important to be physically and mentally ready by appreciating the present — even if it is cold, biting and otherwise uncomfortable.
Notice also how plants in the garden might gather more snow than open areas, and how the additional snow cover is beneficial to insulating plant crowns in your beds. That snow will add more moisture to the soil once the spring melting begins.
Welcome the birds. As the snow flies and the wind chills, birds seek shelter in our trees, shrubs and grasses. There are few things more gratifying in winter than watching birds use the garden. They may hide within shrubs or cloister under grasses. As a light snow falls on a cloudy day, they might take advantage of the natural camouflage to feast at the bird feeder and on the seed heads of plants left standing.
Count the birds, get out the guidebook and identify the species as you learn more about what they need and how to welcome them to your home. Which plants do they seem most attracted to? What habitat do they enjoy? Which berries do they eat first, and which do they leave until later?
Rest the body and charge the mind. Even as we’re forced inside due to the cold and wet weather, this season allows us to delve deeper into the purpose of our landscapes as we plan and dream of landscape changes to come. Now is the time to research the garden features you’d like to add later this year. If you’re interested in building more features that will better manage stormwater and runoff, read about rainwater capture and bioswales. If you’d like your landscape to shade the house and keep it cool in summer, determine where to plant a new tree. If you’d like to support pollinators and other insects, learn about native plants, specifically those that serve as hosts for insects’ young.
Maybe you’d like to learn why and how to layer your garden to outcompete weeds and conserve soil moisture without the need for wood mulch or other elements involving high-intensity management. Now is also the time to pore over last year’s garden journal, if you kept one, and begin a new one, reflecting on what you experienced the year before so you’re ready for the joyous new challenges ahead.