In Houston, it remains comfortable until well into the December and January months, even the burst s of cold last for only a few days. Yet Texans tend to be the first to complain when the first frost hits- "It is too cold!" And, with this one declaration, the children no longer scramble to ride their bicycles and the adults run from the car into the house. All the while, the garden still breams with unnoticed beauty. With the push of organic gardening and the time commitment that any garden (organic or traditional) takes, it is a shame that when winter comes, the garden's beauty is seen only through the fogged-over windows.
Therefore, the question remains: how can we enjoy our garden year round? The answer is simple: plan spaces in your garden that lend themselves to the various seasons. For example, the fire pit can easily be used as a decorative piece. Placed centrally in your garden, the fire pit becomes a focal point perfect for any gathering during the year. Yet, strategically placing this fire pit in a cozier location would allow the heat to permeate creating a comfortable sitting area during the cooler months. Plus, upgrading the fire pit to a more substantial outdoor fireplace actually provides a heat source for these cold months. The fireplace can be both decorative and practical, even on the coldest nights.
Beautiful arbors, covered porches, or plants planed to form a windbreak, all work towards creating a cozy environment to block the wind allowing you to enjoy the outdoor space. In planning these spaces, you want to account for the number of people that you may want to entertain, yet you also want to keep in mind the number of people that you would regularly have in the space. If the goal of the space is to create coziness and warmth in the cold months, then you do not want to create too large a space for those bi-annual parties. Rather, you want to focus on the weekend, and more regular, gatherings. Many people's "eyes are larger than their stomachs," so to speak. They envision a large and beautiful gathering space covered in gorgeous vines or fabric curtains. They forget that the space, when too large, lends itself to feeling and being cold and empty. When planning for the seasons, you must find the middle ground.
Lighting can also create an ambiance that will cut through the colder months. One can practically tell the temperature simply by looking at the lighting outside. Using light to warm a space is frequently done inside. It can also be done outside in your garden. Simply think of how the light plays off of the plants during the summer months, and mimic this pattern with lights for the winter months. While lighting will do nothing to increase the temperature, as the outdoor fireplace will do, it will help to create a warmer feel. Think also of the various forms of lighting that you can incorporated in your garden. From the solar lights to candles, each light source will create a different feel to your garden.
The winter garden is just as beautiful as the spring garden. Enjoy the space!