Ten Reasons to Love a Wicked Winter

by Ken Greene

Cursing the cold? Here are ten ways gardeners can learn to love a wicked winter.

flashback calendula frost1. Time to Dream: Garden work never ends, but it changes with the seasons. Winter, when you’re not outside tending to tender greens, is the perfect time to dream up or map out your spring garden fantasy. You can also read up on how to start seeds.

2. Seed Catalogs: They seem to come earlier every year! Seed catalogs are warm rays of hope during the winter. Their inspiring colors and delicious descriptions give us hope that spring will come. Don’t forget the online catalogs like ours!

3. The Big Picture: You can really see the lay of the land in the winter. The clear unobstructed view that winter creates can teach you a lot about your garden topography or help you choose where to expand.

4. Cozy Dens: You can more easily see the homes and paths of critters in the winter. This includes favorite deer paths and the dens of the half-hibernating (like raccoons, skunks, and woodchucks). Don’t plant tasty spring treats in those spots without dealing with the pest problem first!

5. Cold Comfort: Nature abhors a vacuum--including bare soil. A good insulating snow cover keeps soil nutrients tucked in and helps overwinter biennials and perennials by shielding them from exposure to freezing, wind chill, and temperature fluctuations.

6. Water: We had a dry spring and summer this year. This mounting snow will go a long way towards refreshing ground water, ponds, streams, and springs.

7. Chill Out: Vernalization is process where the flowers, seeds, or plants must go through a period of cold in order to blossom or germinate in the spring. The amount of cold required by a plant is measured in chill hours. Apples, peaches, berries, lavender, and lobelia are some plants that benefit from chilling out.

8. Hypothermia: Dying from exposure is not something you would ordinarily wish on anyone but a good cold snap kills bugs and diseases that would otherwise be very hungry when they wake up in spring.

9. Winter Interest: Here in the Northeast the drastic changes from season to season alter the landscape in beautiful ways. Many folks forgetfully or purposefully incorporate winter interest in to their gardens with fencing, sculptures, and plants that create architecture for the snow and keep some color peeking out. Margaret Roach at A Way to Garden calls her 365-day garden a "happy accident."

10. Appreciation: A real winter, with cold, snow, and a barren brightness, helps us appreciate spring and the resilience of plants. No matter how many years I garden, I’m amazed every year by germinating seeds, leaf buds, winter survivors, and the power of plants.

We’d love hear why you love winter and see your winter garden pics! Post on our Facebook page!