By Fran Glass
My winter garden is a delight to me. Outside my front window little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) and prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis) sway in the breezes. I especially appreciate these grasses when rain keeps me indoors. The amber grass movement is fascinating.
When sunshine arrives, rain drops hanging along the stems glisten. The sun’s low angle casts intriguing elongated shadows of forbs, grasses, shrubs, and trees. The structure of the dormant forbs adds to the composition with an interesting variety of heights, colors, textures, and hues.
Also, the suburban wildlife seem to appreciate my winter garden. The birds eat the seeds and berries and use the dormant plants for cover. Beneficial native insects overwinter inside hollow plant stalks. Non-migrating butterfly and moth chrysalis overwinter in the fallen tree leaves or on plant stalks. Recently, I’ve seen robins eating the berries of American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana).
Whether you have been landscaping with native plants for one season, or twenty years, may you enjoy your winter garden as much as I do mine.
(Editor’s Note: In 2014, Fran Glass’ yard was awarded platinum certification, the highest level, from St. Louis Audubon Society’s Bring Conservation Home program.)