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By Christine Gracey

I have to admit to hibernating inside my house at this time of year as much as possible.  I do look longingly out the windows and stare at my front and back yards. And I plot and plan ways to improve my outdoor living space. I am not sure that all my plans will come to fruition, however just the planning is fun.

One of the hardest things is trying to remember what areas need improvement. I sometimes can’t remember what happened last week, so I need some visual aids to remind me of the specifics. That means I need to take photos of areas that need work throughout the spring, summer and fall months.  Put these photos in a folder, and label them with a title that will remind you of the problem in that area.

One of my main aims is to have visual interest in each garden area from spring to fall. So I look for areas that could use a pop of colour from spring bulbs, or some deep burgundy leaves amidst the green.  It’s important to me to have flowers that bloom spring, mid-summer and fall, so I also check regularly to see where some pernnials can be added.

Trees and shrubs continually grow, and need to be pruned back. However, that has to be done at certain times of the year, depending on the variety. So make a note of pruning to be done, especially if it is later in the season. It is harder to see the work to be done when the leaves are out. Speaking of continual growth, that means formerly sunny areas become shady, and other areas become sunny if a tree is removed.  Some plants can adjust and handle the changes in light conditions, but some may need to be moved around.

I like to look for new seating areas, and plan spots for a new teak bench or a chair with a side-table on it; one that will hold my book and my drink when I actually have a chance to sit down. I pick a spot that has a great view or will visually be appealing to look at.

I also try to do a bit of planning of the vegetable garden. Since some plants need to rotate their locations, I also have to remember what was planted where during the past summer, so as not to repeat the locations.  I also try to think of something new and different to try for herbs and vegetables, just for added interest. That also means checking out new recipes to accommodate my newest additions to the garden.

I take a look at the cushions and outdoor pillows to see if they look good enough for another year or if I have to plan to replace them. Replacements involve scouting out options in different stores – always a fun project!

And of course, the new plant catalogues are out. That means several hours of reading and plotting about where to tuck that new Winterberry ‘Berry Heavy Gold’, the newest Hydrangea varieties  and other new cultivars that look promising.

While all this is going on in my head, if you were to look at me, you would probably just see me staring out the window towards my garden. But I promise, there’s a whole lot of thoughts and plots and plans in the works for the next season!