So…what do you mean by garden ‘bones’?
In garden design, the term garden ‘bones’ refers to something architectural that defines the structure of a garden. They are the permanent and obviously structural things in the yard, some of them living – trees, hedges, ornamental shrubs, and some structural – walks and paths, stone pavers, ponds, fountains, statuary, arbors, trellises, gazebos, and benches. But, all of them ‘things’ that will look good in summer and winter. It gives the garden some height, depth and structure and adds visual interest even under a blanket of snow. Garden ‘bones’ means creating a garden foundation with trees, structures, paths…for the rest of the garden to build upon.
The importance of bones cannot be overstressed. Gardens would look dead without them, buried as they are for most of us, under a blanket of snow right now. To avoid “winter blahs!” consider shrubs and trees that look as good in the winter as they do during the growing season. These are the real gems of the garden.
Some plants produce bright berries that persist into the winter; some have dried flowers and seed pods; some have unusual bark or stem color; some evergreens turn a different hue; and other plants have an attractive sculptural form without their leaves. Many hold the snow or ice in fantasy formation! Many provide shelter and feed wildlife.
In addition to plants, skeletal bones such as arbors, gazebos and trellises, walls and pathways also provide some kind of winter interest, even if it is in black and white right now. That’s why winter is a great time to plan a new garden. It’s also the perfect time to browse gardening catalogs and periodicals, look around at the neighborhood’s landscaping or visit a local public winter garden – Greenfield Village, Henry Ford Estate, Meadowbrook, Cranbrook, Dow Estate.
Remember, gardens are alive. My ‘garden’ was originally a hayfield and has been growing for 20 years and continues to evolve…
And your garden will too!