Our Palmer area is famous for its summer gardens. Some gardens overflow with glorious flowers from spring to fall. Some gardens are packed and juicy with vegetables.
But because our winters are “lengthy,” these carefully created garden spaces are sometimes absent in our world for many months. This is a reminder to love your winter garden—it might be hard to see the beauty right now because we’re imagining the summer sun. However, if you look carefully, they are special spaces year-round.
Palmer Museum—We learned a lesson from the Palmer Museum’s winter light garden this winter. It was a very visible and generous gift to the community to have a new, highlighted winter garden feature—in the middle of downtown Palmer.
Look for the Lovely—If you walk or drive around Palmer you will see countless gardens in their sleeping snowy state. Some of the gardeners seem to have been very intent upon deliberately creating a beautiful space for summer AND winter enjoyment.
How They Did It—Untrimmed perennials and grasses look pretty cool in the winter. Vegetation sporting deep red berries are a bright spot in the white and grey winter landscape. We see this all over Palmer with the Mountain Ash trees. Birds adore them and the color is joyful. Our hardy spruce trees, loaded with snowy branches, is a calming sight. Even leaving some patio furniture outside during the winter makes for a happy setting and stage for the snow.
Add Ons—More than a few of the Palmer area gardens have added features that add winter interest: charming birdhouses; bird feeders; statuary; path lights; wheelbarrows; well houses; signage; wishing wells; weathervanes; large rocks; well-chosen garden decor; wild and well-pruned Spruce
Mother Nature Adds the Frosting—Between the snow falls, hoar frosts, and Palmer’s winds, there are always newly shaped forms in the garden. Oftentimes there are the gentle, soft snowy curves. But after a jolting wind storm or ice storm, the jagged edges are striking. Sometimes a collection of snow people join in the arrangement. Nature adds her frosty touch and the more variated vegetation offer scaffolding for different snow and shadow designs. And frequently a moose or two will wander through to add interest.
Palmer Paths are Portals—Gates and paths are an accessory that define some of Palmer Winter gardens. These specially designed spaces are obviously well-planned and segregated. Icicles hanging from the garage roof only add to the pleasure. Some of the gardens have little benches or large logs for a short sit. If you have some stairs in your garden, which aren’t used in the winter, they can become beautiful collectors of lateral snow levels.
Add Color and Lights—There is a little garden in Palmer that has bright colored balls, streamers and little fairy lights. It is anything but boring. It is cheerful in both the sunlight and the dark and it kinda looks like a festival everyday. In addition, this family paints pictures on their snowy lawn. It appears that sometimes there is a winter picnic in their garden. Sometimes there are snow sculptures by their driveway. I always look to see what is new as I drive by their little house.
Palmer Wind is the Reset—After the Palmer wind is done with us, the gardens and rest of community always has a pick-up job. We have to return garbage can lids with our neighbors. We have to move the trampoline base out of the parking spot. But before you go inside, take a peak at your garden and notice the new wind-driven sculptures.
Year-round Passion—Our hard work in the summer shows up in our gardens. Winter is our time to pause, anticipate, breathe and plan. Enjoy your garden and look out your windows. It will come to life at the right time, but in the meantime it is a beautiful oasis. Appreciate it.
Be safe. Wash your hands. Order your seeds!
Barbara Hunt is both Palmer writer and artist. She works hard to keep the robust pulse of Palmer, Alaska. She shares the good stuff in the weekly Palmer Alaska Buzz Column in the Mat Su Valley Frontiersman and daily on the Palmer Alaska Buzz Facebook Group.. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org or text 907.315.3222