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David Beaulieu

How Interesting Is Your Winter Landscape?

By February 10, 2013

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There's no getting around it: a prominent feature of my landscaping right now here in New England is a blanket of snow. I didn't ask for it, but it came courtesy of Nemo, and I had no power to stop him from gifting me. This snowstorm's name means "nobody" or "no one" in Latin, which reminds me of Odysseus' ploy in escaping from the cyclops.

picture of sky pencil holly shrubFor those of you who need to brush up on your Greek mythology, Odysseus had been held prisoner by the cyclops, Polyphemus, until he figured out a way to escape from the one-eyed giant: namely, by blinding him. When the furious cyclops asked Odysseus for his name, the latter replied that his name was "No One." So later, when Polyphemus cried out for help, his pleas fell on deaf ears, because his complaint that "No One" had hurt him hardly sounded like much of an emergency.

When I woke up this morning, before even rolling out of bed, I decided to pull an Odysseus. "No One has dumped 2 feet of snow in my yard," I assured myself, hoping against hope that the snowfall of the prior two days had been just a dream. But after stumbling to my window to survey the landscape, reality hit home. This snowstorm should be renamed, because -- as I can now confirm -- Someone had, indeed, gifted me with a bunch of the white stuff. And he got quite carried away in doing so, if you ask me.

But the question is (if you're in the same boat, that is), when you look out over your landscaping right now, do you mainly just see white or are there other elements that catch your eye? I offer plenty of winter landscape ideas elsewhere if you need a lot of help. But I thought I'd mention a few things here today.

I've made it a point to have two particular plants flanking my back door, so that I always have something nice to gaze at when I look out over my backyard from inside:

  1. Pussy willows
  2. Winter jasmine

My pussy willows bear at least a few catkins on them right through the winter, so I have a constant reminder of spring right at my back door. The jasmine isn't doing anything yet, but it gives me something to look forward to, as I know it's only a matter of time till yellow flowers start sparkling along its long stems.

Also in my backyard, but at a distance, a lovely Colorado blue spruce stands sentinel, catching snow and displaying it the way I prefer to see it displayed: off the ground!

Mind you, when you have plants around that will keep your landscaping interesting in winter, sometimes you're taking on some extra landscape maintenance for yourself. Take my Sky Pencil holly (picture), for example. I appreciate having this bold column of a shrub shooting out of the snowy ground in winter. But its slender branches have to be tied up before a snowstorm, to avoid the risk of having them damaged.

I was foolish enough to wait till the last moment to tie them up, so I found myself trudging through deep snow to get to the shrub to tend to it. I had been lulled into a false sense of security, thinking we wouldn't get a big snowstorm this winter. Then "No One" came along and changed all that. No, wait, Someone definitely was responsible for this....

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Photo ©2011 David Beaulieu, Landscaping Guide (licensed to About, Inc.)

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