The shape of the crabapple tree becomes dramatic when outlined with snow.

Art in Winter

I woke yesterday to a fine dusting of snow, and during the day more snow fell. Today it outlines the branches of the big oak tree by our boathouse and the old crabapple trees by the drive, emphasizing the contrast between rough bark and soft fluffy white.

 

The shape of the crabapple tree becomes dramatic when outlined with snow.
The shape of the crabapple trees becomes dramatic when outlined with snow.

 

The forecast calls for more snow to come, and as confirmation, the sky is grey. But once the snow stops and the barometer rises, the sky will be a clear, bright blue that cheers the spirits.

 

A typical winter scene: bright blue skies and a coating of frost.
This scene from a few years ago isn’t particularly unusual. But it is particularly gorgeous to my eyes.

 

For those who live in warmer climes, the thought of snow and ice and temperatures that routinely drop to -30C must be daunting. But for those of us accustomed to winter, it is full of glories, just waiting to be seen. Some are ephemeral …

 

A simple clump of grass becomes a work of beauty when outlined by snow and sunlight.
A simple clump of grass becomes a work of beauty when outlined by snow and sunlight.

 

… others longer lasting.

 

Old farm equipment acquires allure in the snow.
Old farm equipment acquires new allure in the snow.

 

At Glen Villa, my garden in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, sculptures and installations that I’ve created reflect the history of the land. These art works have a special appeal in winter. When the sun shines, the steel bands of Trees Rings cast shadows on the snow, mirroring the tree’s internal rings on the ground as they do in the air.

 

Tree Rings is a sculpture I made to commemorate the life of a venerable maple tree.
Tree Rings is a sculpture I made to commemorate the life of a venerable maple tree.

 

On frosty mornings, the barbed wire encircling these inverted branches acquires a beauty that denies its  hurtful reality.

 

The barbed wire that traps
The inverted tree branches form one part of an installation called Abenaki Walking. It honours the original inhabitants of this area of Quebec.

 

Webster’s Column, the sculpture I made to celebrate my husband’s 50-year career as a journalist, appears black and white in the distance, missing only the touch of red that would turn it into the newspaper riddle popular when I was a child.

 

Webster's Column celebrates my husband's career as a journalist.
Glass panels protect the newspapers that fill Webster’s Column. Do you remember the riddle?

 

Colours make a stronger statement in winter than they do in other seasons, when so many other colours compete.  A yellow tree trunk advises caution, think about your choice.

 

Frost has a double meaning here.
Frost has a double meaning here, where paths split.

 

A gleaming red apple warns you to resist temptation.

 

Snow outlines the Grass Snake in winter.
Snow outlines the Grass Snake in winter. And believe it or not, Eden — or something close to it — does exist in wintery worlds.

 

Even blacks and whites gain strength.

 

Winter's black and white accentuates the starkness of Ghost Walk, the final section of Abenaki Walking.
Winter’s black and white accentuates the starkness of Ghost Walk, the final section of Abenaki Walking.

 

At Orin’s Sugarbush, silver leaves chime gently, announcing the holiday season.

 

leaves (1 of 1)

 

And by the front door, a tree awaiting its silver star provides the seasonal touch of green. Iced, of course.

 

This little spruce tree is attached to the chimney stack. Some years I put up this tree, other years a wreath. The tree takes less work.
This little spruce tree is attached to the chimney stack. Some years I put up this tree, other years a wreath. The tree takes less work.

 

Here’s hoping that your holiday season is filled with colour and joy, and your garden with winter’s art.

 

A wreathe for the holidays.
A wreath for the holidays.

 

  • annewareham

    Fantastic pictures! (fantastic garden….) Could have been made for winter. Xxx

    • siteandinsight

      Hardy souls thrive in tough weather.

  • Michiko Gagnon

    Good photographs Pat,
    They are beautiful !
    Michiko

  • I enjoy these pictures of snow in your back yard! I enjoyed my walk today in the sunshine and 8 degree temperature too!

    • siteandinsight

      Unfair! It as -8 today and will only get colder. Still, a nice day when the sun was shining.

  • Dennee Frey

    So beautiful! Thank you for your photos and garden that is wonderful in all seasons!
    Happy holidays!

    • siteandinsight

      Happy holidays to you, too, Dennee. We have TONS of snow today, and more forecast, so winter is well and truly here. Which means I’m California dreaming.

  • Snow lends an extra touch of magic to your art garden…and such a pleasure to walk with you.

    • siteandinsight

      Thanks, Marian. The snow can be gorgeous as well as treacherous. I didn’t enjoy my two-hour drive into the city today, but it had to be done.

  • Oh, Pat. I still recall with a chill visiting Dachau in winter and seeing how frost made the barbed wire look beautiful. That image has stuck in my memory for nearly forty years. Your images are much happier. We’re having our first snow of the year in Toronto today.

    • siteandinsight

      It’s snowing hard here and the forecast is for about 20 cms. I guess winter is finally here.

      Dachau’s frosted barbed wire: that image will stick in my mind, just through your words.

  • It sounds like you have more expectation of sunshine than I do. Sunshine in winter is glorious, but it seems to be rare in our neck of the woods. Right now it’s -8C here but with the wind, it’s even colder feeling. Partly cloudy on Saturday is the closest we will get to sunshine in the 10-day forecast.

    • siteandinsight

      Snowing today, warmer temperatures predicted for later in the week — which means the possibility of rain. That’s the worst possible situation because rain can so quickly become freezing rain. Whatever the temperature or weather conditions, though, I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas.

  • Jason

    Marvellous photographs. I do love the look of newly fallen snow on the branches of trees – and not just the evergreens. I was admiring the new snow on our crabapple the other day, I’m almost sad that it melted.

    • siteandinsight

      Once the snow falls here, it rarely melts until March.

  • Jean Potuchek

    Lots of “winter interest” in your garden. I love the wintry weather best when I don’t have to go out and drive in it.

    • siteandinsight

      It’s snowing now, and having just come back from a trip to buy the last of the Christmas presents, I couldn’t agree more!