December - What’s in Lisa's Garden?

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Your Regional reporter

Lisa Colburn regional reporter photo

Lisa Colburn is a crazy gardener, great cook
and author of the Maine Garden Journal.

The gardens were nestled all snug in their beds,
While gardeners planned the season ahead;
And mamma in her chair, computer on her lap
Was ordering plants to fill a gap.

Gardens, covered with snow, are safely put to bed for the winter. It’s now that we notice the structure of trees and shrubs - their branches outlined with white. The colors and shapes of arbors, garden sheds and bird baths contrast with a snowy wonderland. Walkways are buried, but one can imagine where they’re located from the position of plants and objects. Winter is the season when we really notice the “bones of the garden.” It’s also when we have the time to design and re-imagine our little piece of paradise for the next year. 

The “bones of the garden” are outlined with snow.

What do you see outside your windows?   

I’m constantly re-assessing how to make my garden more beautiful but as it has grown in size, I realize I must also adjust my gardening strategies so I’m not a slave to my garden. Plants that require too much attention to keep them looking good are slowly being replaced. For me, that means eliminating plants that require too much deadheading and pruning. I somehow don’t mind sitting in one spot for an afternoon, carefully weeding around little rock garden plants. On the other hand, I detest removing daylilies’ spent flowers every day for weeks and weeks and then watch as the foliage dries up for the rest of the summer, looking ratty. I’ve chosen my battles.

Daylilies should have spent flowers removed daily. (Deadheading).

To look their best, rock garden plants must be well-weeded.

My new passion is miniature, dwarf and intermediate conifers. I’ve been adding new ones for a few years, impressed with the variety of colors, textures, and forms. They’re remarkably low-maintenance, requiring only the slightest bit of pruning to shape them. They work well with a variety of other plants and because most are evergreen, they enhance the appearance of my garden year-round. As I look out my windows this winter, I'll be envisioning where a few new conifers will improve the “bones of my garden.” I have visions of next summer dancing around in my head!

Conifers work well with many garden plants.

Engelmann Spruce ‘Blue Magoo’ grows asymmetrically.