Backyard Sanctuary

It’s 23 degrees Fahrenheit outside, the warmest it’s been all day, and this is the view from my office window here in Beacon, NY. Now, to some of you this may look rather bleak – the last windswept vestiges of last week’s snowfall, the winter sunlight just barely lighting up that north side of the garden, and a puny tree with no leaves, only bare branches. Well, let me tell you, that tree is a witch hazel,
Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena,’ and every time I look at her, a smile creeps across my face. You see, “Jelena,” as I like to call her, holds great promise: The promise of spring, and soon. I learned to appreciate witch hazels in Providence, RI on wintry walks to and from work, and have wanted one (at least one!) in my own garden ever since. I knew when I planted Jelena that long before anything else was even thinking about emerging from dormancy, this intrepid tree would begin to bloom, pushing forth bright red (or yellow or orange, depending on the variety) fingers of delightfully scented blossoms from soft, velvety buds. And today I checked and sure enough, inside of those tight fists of buds are bright red spots promising blossoms in a month, maybe a little more, maybe a little less. Spring in February/March in New York, not too shabby. My camera’s “macro” feature is nonexistent, but you get the idea:

Your Healing Garden

There are so many ways to make your outdoor space–be it hundreds of acres, a city lot, a fire escape, or a window box–into more than just a place for the occasional backyard party or weeding/raking session. Being in and connected with nature has myriad benefits, with stress reduction being at the top of the list. This is a new series on this new blog, aimed more at the home gardener than the academic or the seasoned designer, with the goal of inspiring people to start treating their immediate outdoor environments as places that can facilitate health and well-being. I’ll touch on important design considerations; reasons for creating a backyard sanctuary; my favorite books, articles, and links on the subject; as well as examples and anecdotes.
More again soon.