The Trees of Winter

The winter landscape might appear barren and void, without foliage and flowers to delight our hearts, but when I look at my silent trees standing tall, I am awed by their strength. When storms blow through, the majestic oaks bend and sway without breaking. My deciduous trees are stripped of their leaves but the elegant form of trunks and branches are revealed. Their vital life forces have returned to the roots, resting and waiting for signs of spring. My trees remind me of sleeping giants in the grey winter landscape.

“The strongest oak of the forest is not one that is protected from the storm and hidden from the sun. It’s one that stands in the open where it is compelled to struggle for its existence against the winds, the rain, and the scorching sun.”  Napoleon Hill

When I first began to develop gardens I was infatuated with color and forgot one of the most important elements of good design. A garden should have interest in every season. I thought my clients would be impressed with an extensive array of blooming shrubs and perennials, but I discovered that without the structure that trees provide, these gardens were playing a symphony without chords. It was all melody. There was nothing to give the landscape scale and continuity. I learned that all the colors needed something to contrast with, a background that stood behind the floral music. In the depth of winter, when the choir stopped singing, there was nothing much to appreciate. I have now grown to admire the winter season of brown bark, beige grasses and grey skies.

“God is the experience of looking at a tree and saying, ‘Ah!’”  Joseph Campbell

Perhaps the real beauty in life can be found in the stillness, in the background, deep within the constants that are always here for us. It’s easy to celebrate the colorful highlights, but perhaps we can look for grace in the quiet moments as well. I think I will start by admiring more trees.


remember, goodness grows,


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