My gardens are put to bed for the winter. Many years we’ve already had snow by mid-November so I try to get the bulk of the outside yard clean-up done before snow arrives. Until it does, I do something in the garden everyday. If it’s very cold, I may not be outside for long but getting fresh air, exercise, and observing the wonders of my little part of the earth is food for the soul. The sky was spitting snow when I was outside this morning.
It’s amazing how our awareness of plants changes once frost-damaged annuals and perennials are removed. All of a sudden there are new stars in the garden. I noticed how brilliant some of the conifers appear to be when they’re the focal point. A golden juniper and a Serbian spruce contrast nicely with the clinging leaves of a purple smoke bush.  Dianthus planted near the front entryway to my home is in this coveted spot because of its impressive foliage. It has pink flowers in early summer but they are fleeting. This plant’s evergreen blue leaves look fabulous in all seasons.

'Saybrook Gold' Juniper, Serbian spruce and smoke bush.

Verbena bonariensis

The blue foliage of this dianthus (cheddar pink) is the real star.

I look for plants with multi-season interest. There are too many plants available to waste time on wimps. This Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘All Gold’) planted in a shady spot on the side of my garage never fails to get attention – spring, summer or fall.

Summer foliage of Japanese forest grass 'All Gold'.

Winter foliage of Japanese forest grass 'All Gold'.

I’ve been encouraging native ferns and mosses throughout my garden for years. Mosses are a new trendy plant showing up in impressive landscapes. The clay soil and cool temperatures in my Maine garden seem to provide the right conditions for optimal growth. All I need to do is periodically remove leaves and debris to avoid rot. Evergreen native ferns love these same conditions. I have many ferns in the garden but lots have been damaged by frost and I’ve cut them back. Native Christmas fern and rock ferns are still looking great! When almost everything else is gone, they’re stealing the show.

Native Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides) is evergreen.

My fern table is alive with mosses and rock fern (Polypodium virginianum).