The Bones of a Garden

You’ve no doubt heard this term before but just what does it mean? The bones of your garden are it’s main form and structures, those parts that withstand the change of the seasons. Garden bones can be plant material as in trees and shrubs, or a man made garden structure such as sheds, fences, arbors, ponds and gates. Permanent garden decorations such as bird houses, birdbaths, statues and decorative pots also add to the bones of your garden.

Sensible Gardening and Living
Sensible Gardening and Living

Never it is more important to have good garden form than in the winter season. This time of year the leaves, flowers, perennials and annuals have all retired for the year leaving skeletons and bare spots in their wake. If your garden lacks garden design you are simply left with a flat, uninspiring space of not much to look at.

The easiest way to achieve a good garden design plan is to plant trees and shrubs throughout your garden, not just along the edges. Also include a few permanent structures that can take center stage when all else is gone. Choose shrubs with good branch structuring for best effects. Messy, tangled shrubs never look good without their covering leaves. Also keep your trees and shrubs well pruned so they always show their best.

Viburnum ‘mariesii’ with it’s lateral branching is an ideal shrub for snowy gardens. The way the snow hangs on along the branches is beautiful, the unusual lateral branching really stands out.

Dwarf Mugo Pines also hold the snow well. Should you get an unusual large snow fall or freezing ice, you should knock some of the weight off the branches to prevent breakage.

Phsocarpus ‘Diabolo’ never has a bad season. It’s graceful form shows off very well in winter.

Juniper ‘Mint Julep’ is a strong branched shrub that fills in a whole corner in winter. They can really form a framework around a deck or patio.

Sedum “Autumn Joy’ if left standing is the perfect landing ground for mounds of snow. This always reminds me of mushroom caps. The seed heads are also good for the  birds.

Arbors, trellises and even bird houses add interest and structure to the garden in off seasons.

You can find many great design ideas from gardening books and web sites. Also walk around your neighborhood, those gardens with good bones will stand out first and center. Observe what makes the difference.

3 thoughts on “The Bones of a Garden

  1. Love this post. Hope we have a snowfall like that in KC. That viburnum is a thriller. Sorry don’t hare enthusiasm for your mugho. Seen too many overgrown for their space. Have one of my own. Love your structure with or without s cover of snow.

  2. Nice selection of plants and structures for winter interest. I also like purple coneflowers in winter for the little snow hats they get on the seed heads.

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