by Jon Morgenson
By late fall I’m the kind of person who is growing weary of landscape work (even though it is my job) and am beginning to get an early start on the winter blahs while working up a good dread for the coming snow and cold. At this time of year (myself included) we get in a hurry to be done with gardening for the year. We want to clean up by cutting plants down before the snow flies to make less work for ourselves in the coming spring. By doing this we remove the fourth season of beauty that a standing garden can provide.
One morning in early December while walking across the parking lot at the Commission Office, I think I had an “epiphany” (self diagnosis). Epiphany in the dictionary has one meaning that goes as follows: A sudden intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple homely or commonplace occurrence or experience. While walking across the parking lot that morning I looked up to see in a new way a garden that I normally take for granted. I was taken by the bright, clear day and the way the sun lit up a butterfly garden near the public entrance to the building. I walk past that bed every work day (the common occurrence) and glance at it or notice in passing that it needs a little work. But on that morning the “aha” moment came to me and finally made sense of all the landscape talks I have listened to through the years on gardening for fall and winter. The moment called for a photo to preserve my possibly one epiphany of a lifetime. The photo is included here to help you visualize what I am trying in vain to say. The only thing that could have made the photo better would have been a little snow to add even more contrast.
To me everything desired for late season/winter landscape interest was on display in the garden that morning. Texture, color and contrast were all at work. The varied mix of plant materials set against the evergreen foliage backdrop was dramatic in the crisp light. Add in the foreground ‘Winter King’ hawthorn tree with its red fruit and it made me stop and take a longer look. Once in awhile you can just get lucky!