How do I create a low maintenance winter garden in colder zones?

cynthia_gwJanuary 1, 2013

Luseal (Lucille) in Pennsylvania posted this wonderful essay in October of 2002. It's a thoughtful guide for all ages to use in creating lower maintenance gardens with year round interest. Thank you so much Lucille :-)

Your aging and winter gardens Posted by luseal (My Page) on Mon, Oct 28, 02 at 22:47

TO MAKE GARDENING EASIER AS YOU AGE, PLANT A GARDEN TO LOOK GOOD IN THE WINTER, (Only read this essay if gardening is your passion and you want to continue gardening to the "bitter end.") When I began serious gardening at the age of 23, I was as strong as a peasant woman. On week-ends I could garden for 10 to 12 hours with nary a sore muscle or aching joint. Before and after work on week days I would even put in an hour or two of hard work with no sore bones. But once I hit the age of 50, things began to creak, moan and pain me. At the age of 52 I got a bad case of vertigo which lasted two weeks. I was bedridden with this for one week, flat on my back. This is when it dawned on me, "Since I am not that super woman of age 23 how would I take care of my extensive garden if some physical problem really limits me in working in my garden?" I was especially thinking of this physical problem called "aging." I am now, way over 50, (older than Martha Stewart) and feel like 101,sometimes. I do not want to be one of those older gardeners who whine and lament: "I cannot work in my garden any more. It is too much for me. I can't bend, dig, weed, trim or plant like I did years ago. I do not have the stamina and energy. I get too sore working in the garden. My garden looks a mess. I must remove most of the plants and go back to just grass. Annuals are too much work. Perennials need too much cutting back and separating. Are my gardening days over? And finally, should I sell my property and move."

Truthfully, all of the above statements are a reality for most older gardeners. Our bones do hurt us. Our bodies do slow down. We can not do what we did 30 years ago. So what are we to do? If gardening makes you happy and you do not wish to give it up, Plan for your older gardening days. How do you plan for your older gardening days? You do this by planning and planting a garden that looks beautiful in the Winter. These two can go hand in hand. This article is mainly written for gardeners in the Northeast U.S., zones 5-6-7-8.

Planting a garden to look beautiful in three seasons and also in the winter means you must plant flowering shrubs, conifers, evergreen trees and deciduous trees that look especially good in the winter. It might be their bark, shape or color. Your winter garden should invite you to want to be in it even though the weather is cold or snowy. You must have enough interest and structure in your garden that it beckons to you to want to sit, walk around, and even putter in it even though the garden is dormant. This is very possible and the way I planned my garden. Let me tell you about my philosophy of winter gardening which is also...

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