Genuine gardeners won't shun winter

One of the gardener's greatest satisfactions, after long periods of angst, is to stand in admiration of a plant or an entire landscape that has finally reached its peak of form and color, delivering in reality what was once only a hopeful vision in the gardener's eye.

For many of us, that image was ripped apart as early-December winds tore through and sent dazzling fall foliage to the ground, leaving us to wait a full year until colors once again attain what we had waited for.

Where deciduous trees are concerned, there's little we can do to improve their character this time of year unless they need broken branches trimmed away.

But devoted gardeners who want to keep alive the feel-good-spirit that comes only from garden satisfaction can turn to other plants. Fall color is temporary anyway, so rather than waiting for results, we can do what we do in other seasons. Wind and weather can't deter us from digging in the dirt that we've prepped to be well-drained and workable year round.

There are plenty of gritty activities that satisfy during winter.

A while back, a friend sent me a clipping about a gardener who changed her life when she moved to a new home and began looking differently at what lay out the door.

This new gardener took a giant leap, embraced the unknown, and soon found herself learning the language of plants and adopting a new wardrobe of baggy clothes and rubber boots. She turned her heart and mind to nurturing seedlings, restyling her yard, and plotting against pests.

In short, she was a new woman.

If you identify with this passion, it never occurs to you that gardening should stop because of winter or a wind storm.

You're almost happy when summer annuals flag at the end of the season. You never mourn drooping perennial stems that come with the first hard frost. You don't consider weather and change of seasons as adversaries; rather, changes wrought by time and temperature merely present us with a canvas that needs some touching up, an opportunity to do more gardening.

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