Winters are great for assessing the “bones” of a garden, especially when you have no snow. That’s certainly the case this year for New England: lots of bones, no winter wonderland. When I compare the glistening photographs from last year with those below, there’s obviously a stark difference, but there is also a certain kind of beauty in the stark brown landscape.
My garden looks pretty dreary except for a few bright spots captured on a 60-degree January day and the boxwood “balls” and germander border, which looks like it’s still alive (but is certainly not). The brightest spot by far is the scarlet cardinal who spends a lot time back there, but I’ve given up trying to capture him on film. The minute I pick up my camera, he flies away.
The Ropes Garden looks very bare, but if you’re not distracted by the flowers and colors you notice other things, like this amazing tree close to the house. I included a postcard from 1910 taken from the same vantage point, so you see the dramatic change, as well as a close-up of the texture of the tree.
A few more images of January gardens around Salem: on Warren, Beckford and Pickering Streets, in my general neighborhood, and across town at the historic herb garden behind the Derby House on Derby Street, on the grounds of the Salem Maritime National Historic Site.
Vincent van Gogh found beauty not only in sunflowers and blooming gardens but also in barren ones, as illustrated by his drawing from March, 1884: Winter Garden (Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam), one of several pen (black iron gall ink, now decayed–and decaying–into a sepia tone) drawings of the bleak landscape of Nuenen he made at that time.
For beautiful photographs of winter gardens–and gardens all year long and in many places–visit one of my favorite landscape (and travel!) blogs from across the Atlantic: terrain.