Year-round courtyards: Start designing a cozy conservatory that affects all your senses

Imagine consuming cocoa by the fire or under a heated pergola, wrapped in an evergreen tapestry full of peeling bark and intoxicatingly fragrant flowers, watching the hummingbird stab it.

Of all the seasons, winter is most likely to get on the bench when we plan our garden. Yet this may be one of the most beautiful – and most important – seasons to consider when designing outdoor spaces that can be used all year round. With its colors, textures and scent, the garden with its strong winter “bones” keeps alive the structure, the comfort and beauty of the creatures that lures you outwards. And you can feed wildlife, building a stronger ecosystem in your spring garden. If you plant spinach or broccoli with purple germination, it can feed you too.

With a little planning, you can now create a garden you can’t wait to enjoy – even in February.

“Winter is my starting point for everything. This is one of my guiding principles for overall design, ”says Christina Salwitz, a garden designer living in Renton, also known as The Personal Garden Coach, co-author of“ Fine Foliage ”and“ Gardening with Foliage First ”.

“In the Northwest, where the climate is a little grayer, I want my customers to drive up in mid-January and really enjoy what they see and not be depressed because hydrangeas don’t bloom,” she says. “Fully accessible with all texture and flowering” all year round.

“The rainy season is half our year,” agrees Lisa Port, a Seattle-certified landscape designer and owner of Banyon Tree Design. “It’s a big part of my job to take people out during the free months, the shoulder seasons. People want to use these spaces all year round, not just in the summer. ”

Port, an architect who became a landscape designer, taught at Edmonds Community College and helped develop a Sustainable Landscape Professional Certification Program in Washington.

Priming pieces

Port focuses primarily on hard coverings – inanimate materials – to reflect its customers ’terrain use. The main ingredient? Comfort, written for warmth, shelter from the rain and a comfortable landing place.

It can be as simple as Adirondack chairs with fluffy cushions and blankets around the fire pit, ideally kept outdoors to be ready to use. Port loves the spacious chair to elevate the mood – “not just something thin you could sit on in the summer.”

The final weatherproof addition, according to Port, would be a covered structure such as a pergola or awning.

“A lot of people stay home more these days, so it’s really great to have a covered space next to or near your home,” she says. He notes that while people in the early stages of the epidemic, plastic sports roofs purchased for social distance were a great temporary solution, they couldn’t stand the big wind and any snow.

More permanent structures allow lighting and heating, as well as ceiling fans to operate in summer. The port prefers Infratech top heaters delivered at Sutter Home & Hearth in Ballard. The roofing (in price order) can consist of opaque corrugated fiberglass, wood shingles, or transparent acrylic that lets in valuable light.

“Outdoor fire sources can be fireplaces, a gas fireplace or a wood-burning chimney fireplace if we want to go into it all,” says Port.

He stresses that each jurisdiction has its own building regulations for fire sources and suggests that you hire a professional landscape designer or architect before hiring a contractor because “changing on paper is cheaper” than rebuilding.

Fun additions

Do you feel more soaked than s’mores? Many people want to bring the bath into their garden. Port said it has installed more hot tubs this year than ever in its 20-year career. “If you’re gay, you’re still fine,” he says.

If you want to speed up your exercise recovery routine, take a plunge pool or an outdoor shower for hot and cold shock, or a sauna that you can put under the deck. A garden or landscape designer can help integrate these into the landscape.

Of course, outdoor lighting is key in the winter, Port says. White lights can illuminate short days from November to March. Port professional tip: skip solar lights – they don’t work well here.

Lastly, don’t forget to follow a good path, Port says. He doesn’t want to harden the hygge’s mood with running cold, wet feet on the grass. Paving slabs, gravel and paving are all good choices for a dry walkway.

Affected plants

And now for dessert – the choice of plants! One would think that winter is all about evergreen shrubs and conifers, but Salwitz, known for his extravagant use of color and bold texture, says these should cover only about a third of the plantations and the remaining two-thirds are deciduous and perennials.

“It’s all about the layers like anything else,” he says.

The plants on the Salwitz list vary from season to season, weaving a color scheme that develops from flowers, foliage, bark or fruit. Speaking on the phone, he dreamed of a Pacific Northwest conservatory combo on the spot.

Start with a red-twig tuft (such as Cornus alba ‘Ivory Halo’), a light, low-maintenance, variegated summer shrub that reveals tall, straight red stems in the winter when cut back hard in the spring. they are wonderful in themselves, in containers or layouts.

Then add the narrow Raywood crying Arizona cypress (Cupressus arizonica “Raywood’s Weeping”), which has fragrant blue foliage and adorably perfect cones “like golf balls,” says Salwitz.

Add a hardy pennisetum herb (such as Pennisetum a. ‘Hameln’) that turns golden brown in the fall and finally a silvery lavender plant such as ‘Phenomenal’ (Lavandula intermedia ‘Phenomenal’). Voila – a lot of textures and colors.

“This combination would bloom in full sun, partial shade, sunshine in the second half of the day, and tolerates drought very well,” says Salwitz.

One of the most popular winter plants in shady places is the early flowering hellebores, which are called “Christmas roses” because their refreshing blooms begin in November, as well as the evergreen ferns, which are found in almost every conceivable form.

Winter Garden Resources

Plant information and inspiration:

• Karen Chapman and Christina Salwitz “Gardening with Foliage First: 127 Dazzling Combinations That Pair Leaves Beauty with Flowers, Bark, Berries and More”

• Great Plant Picks, a compiled database of plants that bloom in the Northwest Pacific: greatplantpicks.org

• egardenGO, herbal combination recipes for the Pacific Northwest by Portland designer Darcy Daniels: egardengo.com

• Soest Herbaceous Show Gardens at the UW Urban Gardening Center

• Joseph A. Witt Conservatory at the UW Arboretum

The cold season is often associated with the inactivity and hibernation of the garden and forests, but many organisms seek food in the winter. Greeting pollinators, birds and wildlife in your conservatory will help feed them while adding animation and wonder to your space.

You’ll see Anna’s hummingbird approaching and zooming out between the barberry and the grevillea as sleepy bees wake up to the peels on sunny days. Spring bulbs such as narcissus and saffron are irresistible to pollinators and are not disturbed by squirrels.

By choosing such plants, you can leave the seed heads untouched in the grasses and cones, which makes the finches and juncos exciting. Skip the fall cleaning this year and leave some branches, uncut shrubs and even low broken tree branches for food, nesting and shelter.

Paper-like hydrangea flowers, rosehips, spotted bark and frost rings have their own stunning beauty that rewards viewing. Take photos, try sketching them, or make an off-season layout for your desk.

And because the scent is one of our strongest memories, the scent brings an invisible but unforgettable dimension to the garden. Evergreen shrubs such as winter daphne and sweet box (Sarcococca spp.) Are paired with bright foliage and fainting scents to make room on the promenade – or by the fire.

Give me the cocoa, please.

A favorite of the locals in the conservatory

We asked a few people on the Seattle Organic Backyard Gardeners Facebook group: What’s your favorite part of winter gardening?

“I’m looking forward to my new campfire site, which will help extend the time I spend outdoors in the fall and hopefully in the winter as well. I look forward to beautiful camellias and, of course, winkes. ” – Sarah Andersen Bruemmer

“My scent grows all year round and it lifts my mood in tough times. In addition, the abandonment of seed heads and leaves provides habitat and brings birds. ” Kathleen Warren

“I love some season extensions with row harvesting, and this year I prepared my garden for the fall harvest, such as harvesting carrots, rutabaga, turnips, and cabbage, like the purple sprouting broccoli. – Cherry Liu

“Put the plants on a winter nap and watch for winter flowers like primrose, pansy and cyclamen.” – Lana Lane

“If we look at the shapes formed by snow on dead plants, we deliberately leave them in place for the benefit of insect babies and other overwintering creatures.” – Susan Baldry Doyle

“I planted the hedge of my favorite shrub along my patio – the sarcococci. It blooms in winter when not much else blooms and emits a pleasant vanilla scent. I like to walk on it and breathe in the scent in the winter. ” – Jen Yu

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