Winter Gardening:
The Hibernating Season

Winter here usually starts in fits. Reminders begin in October, hasten along in November, may or may not appear in December. But in most years, January leaves no question of what the winter is about. You can put off planting bulbs until November, but all should be safely tucked in by January, the first. There is often a deep plunge to below zero F. at the New Year. Snow cover here is very undependable, so those plants without mulch may well heave from the ground and freeze dry in blasting winds. Ice sometimes covers twigs and branches; and snow, when it does appear, may be heavy enough to break branches from the evergreens.

What one can expect to do in the garden? Chores and tips: It is a good idea to keep a check on garden conditions even if not expecting any duties. Try not to shovel salted snow on your plants. Be sure not too forget the over-wintered bulbs and plants for too long. They can dry out.
You can plant until the ground freezes hard, but most people are done with that part of their gardening year when the freeze and rains of November arrive. Try to dig any hole for the living Christmas tree previous to wet rainy and freezing weather. It is very hard going, literally, if the ground freezes before you get your tree planted.
And speaking of Christmas, any outside lighting you do is best put up before the blast of storms and freezing weather makes this an onerous job. If you can find some mild weather in late November, spare yourself some trouble- more tips for Christmas decorating. Celebrate the Winter Season

Brighten up your Winter Garden

Plantings to enjoy for winter interest:
"Harry Lauder's Walking Stick" Contorted Filbert, Contorted willows, Redtwig Dogwood, green-stemmed Kerrias, evergreen shrubs, and the Chamaecypress in particular, (Hinoki false cypress is my favorite!).
Berried bushes, showy rosehips, pyracantha, cotoneasters, crab apple trees, all bushes that hold their berries will provide some interest.


One of my favorites is the Hydrangea family. Some of them hold their flower forms throughout winter to catch the snow and give a ghostly appearance of summer flowers. The climbing hydrangea [Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris] has interesting peeling bark, although the strong winds, here, keep blowing it off, it usually holds fast to whatever structure it grows on. My solution is to tie it in place in a few choice places. This vine requires almost no pruning and grows gracefully and strongly. The Anna [H. arborescens], and the tree hydrangea, [H. paniculata] are lovely all year, each with a different form. I recently planted a hardy Hydrangea macrophylla, "Endless Summer" which also promises to retain effective flower heads.

10 Deciduous Winter Feature Plants

Bright berries color are part of the season

Christmas related gardening:
For those who have chosen a living Christmas tree, it is good to get that tree in the ground as soon as possible after Christmas. Five choices for Living Christmas Trees.

Planted, watered well, and mulched it should become a valued part of your landscape.

Did you get some gift plants? A Rosemary tree, Christmas cactus, cyclamen, or some other holiday plant? Take care of your Christmas plants.

Season Reminders

for a garden calender for the winter months see Month by Month Garden Calender
  • Protect Roses, evergreens
  • Mulching
  • Turn compost
  • Late Winter pruning
  • Keep salt from plants, if possible
  • Keep bird feeders filled
  • Check on those stored summer tubers and bulbs
  • Snow cover is good for plants, mulch next best
  • Check catalogs for future purchases

Quicklist: hints and tips

  • salt from sidewalks and roads harm plants
  • protect living Christmas trees from desiccating winds
  • keep your bird feeders well-stocked
  • trees,and bulbs can be planted as long as the soil is unfrozen
  • use branches from cut Christmas trees to shelter garden plants
  • check on your stored summer bulbs: dahlias, caladium, etc.

More of the Season:

a selection of pages on the web

The Wood-Pile

Out walking in the frozen swamp one gray day
I paused and said, "I will turn back from here.
No, I will go on farther- and we shall see".
The hard snow held me, save where now and then
One foot went through. The view was all in lines
Straight up and down of tail slim trees
Too much alike to mark or name a place by
So as to say for certain I was here
Or somewhere else: I was just far from home.
A small bird flew before me. He was careful
To put a tree between us when he lighted,
And say no word to tell me who he was
Who was so foolish as to think what he thought.
He thought that I was after him for a feather-
The white one in his tail; like one who takes
Everything said as personal to himself.
One flight out sideways would have undeceived him.
And then there was a pile of wood for which
I forgot him and let his little fear
Carry him off the way I might have gone,
Without so much as wishing him good-night.
He went behind it to make his last stand.
It was a cord of maple, cut and split
And piled- and measured, four by four by eight.
And not another like it could I see.
No runner tracks in this year's snow looped near it.
And it was older sure than this year's cutting,
Or even last year's or the year's before.
The wood was gray and the bark warping off it
And the pile somewhat sunken. Clematis
Had wound strings round and round it like a bundle.
What held it though on one side was a tree
Still growing, and on one a stake and prop,
These latter about to fall. I thought that only
Someone who lived in turning to fresh tasks
Could so forget his handiwork on which
He spent himself the labor of his axe,
And leave it there far from a useful fireplace
To warm the frozen swamp as best it could
With the slow smokeless burning of decay.
~ Robert Frost

Explore the Seasons : here

guides for each season


Explore the Seasons : here

guides for each gardening season


Explore the Garden : here

or other parts of the site listed below


Herbs that have been dried and stored are one of the pleasures of winter. Make plans for next years inclusion of herbs. Remember to dry them away from light and moisture, and once dried, to store them in airtight jars. If you are using them in crafts they can be tied in bunches and hung from pegs or nails. Dried flower arrangements and wreaths brighten up the winter interiors; herbs give their scents to arrangements, as well as potpourris.

Berries and evergreen branches, twisted twigs and evergreen groundcovers are sources for indoor flower arranging.

A gardener's winter need never be dull or without interest.

Marjoram is one of my favorites for creating simple wreaths for the kitchen.

Internet gardening! Don't forget to have bookmarks for winter garden planning and dreaming. With your favorite notebook editor handy in your computer you can write up all those great ideas and plant lists for easy spring access. How many times have I mislaid my notes? And the wonderful ideas and inspirations of winter were lost in the rush of spring activities? New years resolution that you just might accomplish: no more forgetting with a computer printout of those important plans and lists.

Zone Maps | Wintertime

Start a garden journal for the coming growing season.