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May 2, 2015
Today I added the Soft Fruit for the Chinook Zone handout...

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Today I added the Beginner Gardening Basics Part 2 handout...

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April 23, 2015
Today I added the Beginner Gardening Basics Part 1 handout...

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April 8, 2015
I am teaching a two-part workshop for new gardeners at the...

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Winter Beauty

Living in the Calgary area has many positive features but for gardeners the length of our winters is not one of them. Winter can start as early as October and finish at the end of May. That is over half of the year! For those of us who are avid gardeners that leaves a very short period of time to get our color fix in.

Gardening has traditionally been thought of as a spring and summer activity but with our seasons being so short it is time to change our perspectives on gardening and plan winter landscapes too.

Winter is the best time of year to look at the ‘bones’ of the garden. Looking out of any of your windows do you like what you see? Do you see nothing but a flat expanse of white or brown dead grass? If plants are chosen carefully your garden can be just as interesting in the winter as in the summer. While summer gardens tend to be a riot of color winter gardens rely on the more subtle attributes of plants. Evergreens provide a punch of color and are at their best during the winter. Many shrubs have interesting branch structures, berries or cones, colorful branches, twigs or interesting bark. As well there are several perennials that hold up well over the winter with interesting seed heads and shapes that provide architectural elements to the garden.

When designing your garden consider your most prominent views. Do you sit and look out the living room or family room windows or want a view from your kitchen? Once you have identified the view(s) plan your winter garden to be seen from this site. Pair evergreen foliage with shrubs that have some interest in winter. For example, place blue foliaged upright Juniper ‘Wichita Blue’ with red-twigged dogwoods, a hip forming rose such as Rosa glauca then add some perennials such as ornamental grasses, coneflowers and globethistles and you will have a grouping that is both pleasing in summer and winter.

While winter is still upon us take a look around your garden and decide where it needs help to make it not only interesting but also beautiful year round.