Craig's Winter Letter

With the Winter Season upon us again,  I always seem to settle in to a “comfy-mind mode” whether I should or not.

With a new gas line to our fireplace and the light from the fire to read by, I find myself contemplating where I am in life, and where I need to go in order to grow the business and the quality of my life with others.

Our early Halloween snow affirms that we have to be ready for garden triage anytime from October through April.  Heavy, wet snows seem to be more damaging to plants than the extremely cold temperatures of the last few winters.  We have found that plants that are fully established and healthy going into the fall, have the best chances to survive the rigors of our new winter climate.  To that end,  We have stopped planting broadleaf evergreens by the end of September, whenever possible, to get root establishment before a hard freeze, so the plant is able to retain moisture in the leaves and its attractive green color come spring.  All herbaceous plantings are installed by mid-October and deciduous woody plants by the end of November.  Winter watering or moisture (snow) is essential to these newly installed plants and is imperative for their survivability.  If we don’t get enough winter moisture, even when a plant is dormant, plants can succumb to the lack of hydration.  Plants need access to moisture, so always keep a bucket available for those plants installed late in the year or those under a roof overhang which inhibits natural hydration to occur.  We water container plants in the winter once every 2 weeks just to be sure…

Walks through the gardens at 900 this time of year really tell the story of what the garden has grown into in just 11 years now… Little whips a decade ago are now calipered trees, most plants initially installed, are still here and now thriving, the light and air circulation throughout the gardens ever changing with the maturity of the perimeter privacy wall plantings.  A few uncommon, less hardy or ill-placed plants have succumbed to the environment but that is the dynamic nature of gardening anywhere.  Resultant thoughts from frequent dormant garden season walks are much like that of winter moisture effects on newly installed material, essential for survivability.

One of my favorite realizations is when I approach a plant that I have tended for years and all of a sudden it looks like a commanding element of the garden and typically so much bigger than me.  I love to be reminded of the past  and can’t wait to see how large the plants will ultimately become over the years we spend together.  It’s as if these plants have graduated from nursery stock to architectural elements which is quite gratifying.

Before the mail order catalogs come in to tempt us all with new and improved offerings for our gardens,  take walks about your garden often with an open mind. Be cognizant of what you need to improve on and how much space you truly have in your garden for anything new.  I am at the point that if a new plant comes in, another one needs to leave.  Bigger is not always better when one is trying to control a garden’s development.   Often going bigger creates a larger maintenance monster out of enthusiasm when growing plants over the years.

May these winter months be an inspiring time for reflection on how great your garden was this past year and how to improve it in the next garden season.  In the meantime, “image eat” on social media sites and create image albums for future reference.  Take the time to read about a favorite plant, such as Helleborus sp., to know which is the best species for the right place… Whether one stays at home all winter or has a chance to travel to other climates, always keep your receptors open for new ideas to incorporate into your garden, translating the act of planting and tending healthy plants to the Art of Fine of Gardening….

May you too enjoy comfy times this winter and I hope many moments of reflection, study, and exploration in your life journey.


Craig Bergmann