Typically, we all dread the shorter days with its winter depression referred to as SAD or seasonal affective depression. It makes it all the more important to consider adding color and interest into the existing landscape. I have included a few suggestions for consideration below.
Start by adding trees, shrubs, and plant materials that add color to the winter season. Plants add color by foliage colors such as shades of green of evergreen trees and shrubs. Green is the color of life and hope for the coming of spring. Trees with colorful bark like whites of birches, or reds and yellows of dogwood shrubs, or the copper bark of Amur chokecherry. Then, the exfoliating, peeling barks such as Pekin lilac, fringed gray wings of Euonymus, and oak branches and twigs.
Another good choice is planting crabapple trees and cranberry bush, Viburnum species that attract various wildlife. Colorful songbirds and red and gray squirrels enjoy the fruit and hanging seeds.
Grouping these plantings to produce a green background, with a white bark in mid-ground and shrubs with hanging fruit in front, adds a 3-dimensional impression. Repeating these or similar groupings through your visible landscape will keep the eye moving from one side to the other.
If you have a living Christmas tree, recycle it in the yard as a bird feeder. Hang feeders or paddles with peanut butter and birdseed. Place the tree in an area visible through a picture window.
Try using artificial lights strung from trees or leading along pathways or on fences to battle shorter days of daylight. Dr. Ida Solhaug, University of Tromso, Norway, (2020) stated “…when you first are outside, with good clothing, it always feels better than you thought it would; less windy and less cold than it looked from inside. You feel refreshed, you may be a little bit robust and vital, and you feel the benefits of being in contact with the elements.” Bonfires and ice skating activities allow us contact when Covid otherwise causes us to separate from one another.
“Welcoming the shifts in seasons, instead of regretting them, puts you in contact with the rhythms of life and death, with nature, which might also help us put things in our life into perspective.” Dr. Solhaug.
Article citation: “What Scandinavians can teach us about embracing winter” by Kari Leibowitz, online article Dec. 22, 2020