Our Team

Here in Northern Illinois, most people consider their garden or landscape a three-season pleasure, at best. But there is still much to enjoy during the winter months, and you may already have most of the elements necessary!

Hardscape/Garden Ornaments
Of course, it’s appropriate to store or cover most outdoor furniture, planters and garden ornaments. Wicker, clay/ceramics and even some cement items such as fountains will suffer mightily from snow cover and rounds of freezing and thawing. And smaller decorative items will simply be buried by a few inches of snow, and may be broken from being accidentally walked on.

But permanent elements such as arbors, fences and gates gain in architectural interest in winter and can look quite enchanting, covered with frost or snow. (Or even fairy lights during the holidays and beyond.)

And though winter weather may shorten the lives of some furniture a bit, a cedar glider will weather to a lovely silver grey and look almost inviting, topped with a little snow. As will a set of aluminum chairs and table on a patio or deck. And resin planters can stay outside year-round.

Larger garden ornaments and artwork, made of weather-hardy materials such as stone, metal or solid concrete will be even more striking, set against a backdrop of bare trees and bushes and a blanket of white. And birdbaths left out (especially with heaters in them) will not only look lovely but will be gratefully used by birds all season long.

Rather than dutifully cutting down all your decorative grasses and spent flower stalks each fall, consider leaving a bit of that task to the spring. Taller, upright grasses and their fall plumes can look just as beautiful in winter as in summer and fall. And many flowers, such as coneflowers and clematis, have seedheads that are as interesting and lovely as the flowers that preceded them, not to mention being a source of winter food for birds.

If your landscape doesn’t include any evergreens, consider incorporating some next growing season. Boxwoods, firs and pines keep their lovely shape and color year-round.

And if you don’t have any trees or bushes that produce berries, think about adding a few of those, too. There’s a wide variety of wonderful viburnums that sport winter berries, not to mention flowers in the spring and amazing fall color. (And the birds love the berries, too. If you’re especially lucky, you may be visited by a flock of migrating cedar waxwings in early December, who literally get drunk on the berries and might have to spend the night with you, sleeping it off.)

Some dogwoods are really at their most striking when their leaves have fallen, leaving bright yellow or red branches shooting through the snow. Likewise, some bushes only truly come into their own during the winter, such as Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick, with its many twisted, sculptural branches. Plant one with fir trees or bushes to its back and the sun and/or a spotlight at its front for a breathtaking visual experience, day or night.

Well, we’ve already mentioned the element that can bring the most color, variety and all-round enjoyment to your winter garden—birds!

However, to truly enjoy them, go beyond offering them some berries, a few seedheads, a drink of water and a nice heated bath. Consider putting out one or more bird feeding stations around your yard. Your local home improvement store or a specialty store such as Wild Birds Unlimited has lots of information and options for feeders, station set-ups and, of course, the seed itself.

But here’s the most important thing to do when setting up bird feeders, especially for the winter—put them where you can see and enjoy them from inside your house!

Yes, you’re feeding the birds to help sustain them through the winter. But you are also feeding them to sustain yourself! Never will you spend so much time gazing out at and enjoying your winter garden as when you are also watching the beautiful birds that visit your feeders throughout the season.

Enjoy your winter garden!

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