Under wraps: A garden of burlap bushes and Styrofoam shrubs

This is blog fourteen of thirty-one, part of a blog a day for the month of March challenge. Will I be a better blogger when it is done? I hope so. But please don’t do a drop-in visit, a few things have fallen by the wayside, and housecleaning was the first one to go. My husband suspects I took up the challenge for that very reason.

The yellow village map with exquisite lettering hides under this sign, wating for spring.

The yellow village map with exquisite lettering hides under this sign, wating for spring.

Under wraps: A garden of burlap bushes and Styrofoam shrubs

Canvas, Styrofoam, and plastic tarps are one of winter’s landscape features. It is a dismal day in October when the Town of Bar Harbor hauls out the twenty-foot plywood triangles and nails the two village water fountains into their winter coffins.

I see the one on the village green almost daily, and after many requests and suggestions for a plexi-glass version, or having artists or students paint them, I have become used to them. I still find them ugly blemishes in an otherwise tranquil and welcoming open space, however.

It is not only the fountains that go under wraps. Many seasonal businesses protect their signage with blue tarp secured by rope. My guess is the business owners who do that leave for the winter, and don’t care what it looks like. Their customers are not here now, and the message is those who are here don’t matter.

Lately, there has been a trend to have sign covers made, a sort of sign slipcover. These are zippered, and easy for the business owners to install and remove. They are also far more attractive that the bright blue plastic, which has a fairly short lifespan. Most of the blue wrapped signs sprouts streams of plastic threads that wave in the wind, and are quite possibly a driving hazard. The new custom-fit ones advertise the property’s name and website, which is probably why the business could justify them. They are very clever, nicer than tarps, and I for one say thank you to all those B+B owners and retail shopkeepers who do this. Taking a sign down entirely is another good choice. The empty signposts merge into the landscape, and are barely noticeable.

There is a practical reason for putting things under wraps, and that of course is to protect them. We have our little powerboat island hopper shrink-wrapped every year. It keeps it in good condition, and we can hide it up on the hill behind the barn so no one, not our neighbors and not us, has to see it.

The salt put down to keep streets safe to drive on can kill plants and bushes near the road, and many people wrap their shrubs in burlap, or makes a plastic barricade. Some of these can be attractive, but most look like what they are, a temporary cover, just for the winter, until the sun and summer and green growth can emerge once again.

Which leads one to wonder, why is winter a temporary phase, shut down, covered up, barricaded or plywood boxed? Most of these unsightly protective coverings are in place for almost six months. Gardens with exotic roses and shrubs that are not native and need covering to survive the winter are not my choice for landscaping. I don’t want to spend months looking at burlap bundles. No flowering bush is worth that.

My garden goes naked all winter. No boxes, wraps or tarps. Queen Anne’s Lace makes a cup for a scoop of snow, and dried pods on milkweed have a slim curved silhouette against the white ground.

Brown flower heads, dried flower stalks, and dead, shriveled leaves are usually cleaned up by good gardeners, but I leave mine. It isn’t just laziness, though I suppose that might be partly accountable. The winter garden, mere shadow and texture, is so unchanging for months. The summer season changes radically, almost daily, but there is restfulness to the winter garden landscape.

My shrubs are unboxed, my trees left to fend for themselves. My garden will never boast exotic non-native flowers, or be featured on a summer garden tour. I don’t mind that though, it is a small price to pay for all-season beauty.

Winter shrouds

Winter shrouds

 

Amazing rosebushes and beautiful garden–in June

Amazing rosebushes and beautiful garden–in June

 

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Karen O. Zimmermann

About Karen O. Zimmermann

Karen O. Zimmermann savors chance encounters with people throughout the state of Maine, and is endlessly delighted with the tales they have to share.