The southern suburbs of St. Paul/Minneapolis got 12-14" of fresh snow over the Christmas holidays, along with a little rain and sleet on Christmas Day, transforming our yards into new landscapes. I always enjoy looking at how a yard looks at different times of the year - how the light falls, what shapes are evident, what colors dominate and what activities are taking place. When you looked out your window this week, what did you see?
You may not realize it from the looks of things, but winter is a very active time for a landscape. Trees and shrubs grow during the winter, some as much as 18 - 24". Some plants covered by snow, are still 'evergreen' - if you have pachysandra, ajuga, artemesia, creeping phlox, heuchera (coral bells) or creeping sedums - you'll notice them looking quite presentable as soon as the snow melts. Plants like echinacea (black-eyed susans), viburnum, liatris and perovskia (Russian sage) provide food and shelter for the wildlife during the cold winter months and they give you some interesting shapes to look at. Even if you'd like to tidy things up before the snow flies, most of these are better left uncut over winter - it actually increases their survival rate.
Spend a few minutes looking our your window as you drink your morning cup of coffee or as you walk out to your car - you'll notice there is a lot of life in the winter landscape you may not have seen before. If all you see is a blanket of snow, maybe it's time to start planning some changes for next year.