Today is one of those cold winter days in the Northwest, highs just in the low 30s with some snow on the ground. It’s really the kind of day I don’t want to be out working in the garden but I don’t mind a walk-about. Everywhere I see little signs of spring but what I really appreciate are the simple things like the color and texture of the bark, mosses and lichens.
I’m fortunate to have big trees with stunning trunks. There are a couple Western Red Cedars, a couple Big Leaf Maples and more than a dozen Douglas Firs some reaching more than 100 feet in the garden. They all pre-date the garden so are the structure that the garden was built around. In the almost 15 years we have been here, we have added a number of small trees for additional interest. After the ice storm of 2012 we lost several big trees. When I went to replace them one of the factors I considered was winter interest. Along the main border I added 3 White-barked Himalayan Birch. Their white bark brightens up the whole garden on gloomy days. From the house they are quite stunning against the dark green backdrop of the rest of the garden.
In another part of the garden I added the Warty-barked Maple. It was one of my favorites from the Miller Garden because of it’s cool trunk. Acer palmatum ‘Arakawa’ was give the common name ‘warty bark’ because the trunk and branches become covered in very small lumps making it very textural.
At the edge of the field I added several Bloodtwig Dogwoods that I can see from several vantage points including the breakfast nook in the kitchen. I love having my morning coffee and watching the chicken scurry around and the burst of color from the large shrubs.
Because of the amount of rain we get the moss is a constant. Rather than try and eliminate it I embrace it. Its soft and rich green color are very soothing. The ninety year old apple trees in the garden have always been covered in moss. Occasionally it falls off in sheets only to come back slowly. The lichens are similar, combining with the mosses and adding a bit of silver to the color palate. The moss and lichens on the branches, up in the Big Leaf Maple give the whole tree a softness against the grey skies.
Sometimes it is nice to slow down just a bit and appreciate the simple things.