When I first began gardening,, I thought that Quebec’s winter landscape could offer nothing of interest. Now I realize that I only needed to train my eye to see things differently. Instead of looking to plants for interest, I needed to look for patterns and details.
Details like the sun-sparkled fuzz of snow that coated a clump of grass beside the driveway.
Patterns like the wavy black line drawn by the not-yet-frozen stream as it crossed the meadow.
Corn stubble that broke a farm field into rows and brought a touch of gold to the black and white world.
I needed to use my imagination to see beyond the obvious. Shadows on the frozen lake shaped like cathedral spires suggested a hidden country, just beyond the camera’s reach.
Ice on the pond became fish with perfectly frozen scales and eyes in just the right place.
By the house, Calamagrostis brachytricha became a feather duster, delicately gathering snow.
Ornamental grasses by the Skating Pond offered more conventional ‘winter interest,’ particularly early in the season before the snow beat them flat.
All these views I came to look for, and to love. Without doubt, though, my favourite piece of ‘winter interest’ remains the grass snake. The white coat the snake wears hides his red eyes and tongue, but the red apple remains visible. And as always, it is just out of reach.
Dead grass — or plants of any kind — aren’t the only things that provide winter interest in the garden. I’ll be writing more about this in the next week or so. And I’ll share an idea you may want to imitate: a wonderfully simple structure that can add colour, humour and intrigue to a garden of any size, in any season.