The Importance of Good Bones
As I look out my window at the winter landscape I am thankful for good bones. Not mine, although they are helpful with all the shoveling I have been doing lately. I think here in Boston we are nearing a record for the snowiest winter ever recorded. I am thankful for the “bones” of my garden – plants that anchor the space four seasons a year. All too often we become enamored of flowers, when in actuality their beauty is fleeting. Even the most robust perennial will rarely reward you with more than a month or so of blooms. The beautiful peony, with its gorgeous flowers, will be bare within weeks, leaving you nothing but foliage prone to powdery mildew. Why build a garden around that kind of performer?
Bones provide visual interest even in the dead of winter and when I am creating a design for my clients they are the first place I start. After all, I live in New England where it sometimes seems that winter is the longest season. What will we be looking at in the garden from November until April? Often the bones I use are evergreen, like the ‘Centennial Girl’ holly and ‘DeGroot Spire’ arborvitae that stand watch over the sleeping perennials at their feet. Sometimes my “bones” have interesting bark or branches. A dusting of snow on the twisted branches of my Japanese Maple is magical. The beautiful peeling bark of Paperbark Maple (acer griseum) is beautiful when backlit by the winter sun. The bright red and yellow branches of dogwood (cornus sericea) shine against the snow. If your winter garden looks flat why not consider a redesign? Incorporate some evergreens with different shapes and textures. Add deciduous trees or shrubs with interesting bark, berries or branches.
Let’s face it winter in New England is long; having good bones can make it more bearable.