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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Decoding Gardening Jargon: "Winter Interest"

     Any business can get caught up in its own jargon..... terms that are common and clear to "insiders," but are misunderstood or just plain meaningless to the general public.  The gardening business is no exception.

     We at Tagawa's want to clear up some of that confusion, and translate these "insider" phrases.   We hope this decoding might be helpful to interested gardeners who are always ready and willing to learn something new. 

Winter what?

   So here we go.  I'm going to start with one of my personal favorites..... a gardening term I use all the time.  "Winter interest."  No, it's not about having a non-gardening hobby in the off-season.  Winter interest is a key component of landscapes that are appealing all year 'round.  It focuses on plants and landscape features that are attractive even during the "off" season. 

     Winter interest refers to anything in our yards and gardens, including patios and balconies, that creates eye appeal (or "eye candy," if you like) in the winter, when the leaves and blossoms are long gone.  Maybe it's a shrub, like a red twig dogwood.  As the name implies, the plant's rich red bark looks beautiful even when it doesn't have a single leaf.

Ornamental grasses as winter "eye candy"

     Ornamental grasses can give our landscapes lots of winter interest.  It's one of their best assets.  With a nice bit of snow, the stems and seedheads of ornamental grasses look like a beautiful winter bouquet.  Even without snow, many of the ornamental grasses will dance and wave with the slightest breeze.  Unless they're trampled by a pack of hounds (okay, my pack of hounds) or a heavy, wet snow (don't we wish....), clumps of ornamental grasses can be left standing tall until it's time to cut them back in early spring, when the new shoots begin to emerge. 

     Don't get me started on which Colorado front range county cuts back all of its clumps of ornamental grasses the first week of January.  The buzzed plants have no choice but to look pathetic for months, just waiting for spring to arrive.  It's a pet peeve of mine, but it's a good one....!

Decode, if you please....

     It may not qualify as a pet peeve, but I do think I'm going to make decoding garden jargon a new part of my mission at Tagawa's.  Stay tuned!  There's a lot that we don't want being lost in translation!


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