Garden Photo of the Day

The First Taste of Winter

The season started out gently in Pennsylvania

Today’s GPOD comes from Kevin Kelly.

The first snow of the season descended gently in Harrisburg, Pa., on December 9. Here are a few photos of my garden to celebrate the event. I enjoy the first month of winter because I get some needed rest from my garden chores. As many of you know from prior posts, my garden is on 4/10 acre in a suburban development. I have 145 conifers on the property. Most of them are slow growing and easy to maintain in a small size. I also leave most of the perennials up for the winter, only clearing out hostas (ugh) and the annuals. Hope you enjoy.

Front of the house. The middle bed is the barest, as this is where I plant a large annual display each year.
Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Little Honey’. Still in fall color, this hydrangea is golden yellow through the entire growing season.
Molina caerulea ssp. arundinacea ‘Skyracer’. This is an awesome “see-through” grass.
Isn’t sedum lovely in the winter?
Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Standing Ovation’, one of my favorite grasses.

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  1. frankgreenhalgh 12/18/2017

    G'day Kev. - Your post is a great way to start the week and help us embrace the festive season. Your house and garden are set off beautifully by the snow. The scene looks amazing, including the extensive decorations and that lovely snowman. The whole show is an absolute credit to you and Kathy. It is hard for this Aussie to take it all in since I have never experienced a serious snow fall - can you believe that? You thoroughly deserve your rest - what do you do for your recreation during winter?

    Your pics. have rekindled the latent festive spirit in me, and so here is my attempt at getting in the mood - without the snow. This is the flower of our native waratah (Telopea speciosissima 'Corroboree' - it is medium to tall shrub (with flowers 4-5 inches across) in the family Proteaceae; it is often used in flower arrangements). Cheers from a warm Oz

    1. user-7007498 12/18/2017

      Hi, Frank. Thanks for the festive flower. Beautiful looking leaves with that gorgeous flower. Looks like it could be a bee magnet.

    2. Maggieat11 12/18/2017

      That is a mighty impressive flower, Frank! And festive as well! Thanks for sharing!

    3. user-4691082 12/18/2017

      Good morning Frank! That flower has leaves kind of like our rhododendron. It is gorgeous!

      1. user-7008735 12/18/2017

        That's just what I was thinking about the leaves, Rhonda. I love the curving structure of the flower, Frank. Beautiful!

    4. User avater
      LindaonWhidbey 12/18/2017

      Great photo, Frank. The protea family has always intrigued us since they are so unlike anything that we can grow. This one is gorgeous and makes for a great Christmas card. Seeing a whole shrub of these must be spectacular.

    5. sheila_schultz 12/18/2017

      Yet another incredibly cool bloom... you're surrounded with awesomeness Frank! Keep 'em coming!

    6. User avater
      meander_michaele 12/19/2017

      Seeing this beautiful flower which shares the red color of our holiday season poinsettia made me wonder about how it is for you Aussies celebrating Christmas in your summer season. Are there traditional plants that are part of your festivities?

      1. frankgreenhalgh 12/19/2017

        Hey Michaele - Poinsettias are also commonly used Xmas flowers here (they are forced into flowering over the festive season). Christmas lilies are also popular as well as a range of red flowers, but there isn't really a stand out traditional plant - usually it is a matter of what plants are in flower in the garden. Our decorations are pretty much the same as those I have seen in GPOD pics (with the exception of the snowman), and of course there are those associated with Remington and Henry (which you have seen previously). Cheers, Frank

    7. user-6536305 12/21/2017

      Happy Holidays to you too Frank! Love your native waratah (Telopea speciosissima 'Corroboree' especially the fact it is a small shrub.

  2. user-7007498 12/18/2017


    I sent 11 pictures, of which 6 have been posted. I am not sure if the rest will be posted on another day, since Steve said the submissions are few. I have attached additional photos below that I did not send.

    Viburnum nudum 'Winterthur', underplanted with Lirope 'Variegata'

    Cryptomeria japonica 'Black Dragon'

    Buxus sempervirens 'Variegata', Cephalotaxus harringtonia 'Fastigiata', Hydrangea paniculata 'Little Lime', Tsuga canadensis 'Cole's Prostrate'

    Picea pungens 'Blue Totem'

    Side yard. Cephalotaxus harringtonia 'Duke's Garden' in front.

    1. bsavage 12/18/2017

      So pretty! I'm doing the 'snow dance' here in SW Colorado... because we have none! I grew up in Western New York, so I'm enjoying your lovely snowy pics!

      1. user-7007498 12/18/2017

        Thanks, Brenda. We have had 3 snowfalls so far, each about 2-3 inches. It has been nice, because it wasn't enough to disrupt getting around, but has made it pretty.

    2. Maggieat11 12/18/2017

      Really wonderful winter images, Kevin. Looks like I need to get some clumps of the "Standing Ovation" as well! Your home and gardens look fabulous in any season. And I love that you bring to our attention such interesting varieties. Your gardens are a "MUST visit"!

      1. user-7007498 12/18/2017

        Thanks, Margaret. Standing Ovation is the best of the Little Bluestems. Does not flop at all. Anyone on GPOD passing through Harrisburg is more than welcome to visit.

    3. User avater
      meander_michaele 12/18/2017

      Well, Kevin, you just know that I lingered a little extra longer over the 'Black Dragon'...admiring how handsome it looked in its winter overcoat.

      1. user-7007498 12/19/2017

        I added that picture with you in mind, Michaele

        1. User avater
          meander_michaele 12/19/2017

          Ha, I hope that means I'm predictable in a good way!

    4. user-6536305 12/21/2017

      Thanks for the bonus photos Kevin. The side yard photo is especially nice!

      1. user-7007498 12/22/2017

        Thanks Lilian. I have been working hard increasing conifers and perennials that have extended interest to keep the garden looking good in winter.

  3. NCYarden 12/18/2017

    Good morning, Kevin. Timing is good, it all looks just like a holiday postcard. Love the snow, maybe because I rarely see it, but I adore the way it looks on plants in a garden. Nothing like an instant transformation that a pleasant snow can bring. The ornamental grasses look amazing with the powdery flecking.

    1. user-7007498 12/18/2017

      Thanks, David. I love the snow on the plants, especially when it is only a couple of inches. I still get amazed when I see people cut down their ornamental grasses in October as part of their "yard cleanup". They miss out on so much beauty.

      Hope you and Christine have a wonderful holiday. I am planning on making a trip in the spring to your area to see Plant Delights in person, and would love to visit you and see your garden. Will be in touch after the holidays.

  4. Jay_Sifford 12/18/2017

    Good morning Kevin. I've always hated winter, but I'm kind of on a zen journey these days and cultivate appreciation for things that used to bother me. Such it is with winter. There's definitely a unique kind of beauty with this season. My garden is rather like yours in that we have lots of year-round structure and texture. Back when it was mostly hostas and daylilies, it looked so bad in winter. Now, if I can only get used to being cold. I'm working on it! Thanks for sharing.

    1. user-7007498 12/18/2017

      Thanks, Jay. I have been working hard on incorporating conifers, grasses and perennials that hold their form in the winter. I, too, used to hate winter, but realized that my garden was dormant for 3-4 months, and I had to do better.

  5. user-7007498 12/18/2017

    Thanks, Diane. Standing ovation is the perfect Little Bluestem. Has all the great colors, is native, and definitely doesn't flop. It still looks good when I finally cut it down at the end of March.

  6. User avater
    treasuresmom 12/18/2017

    Kevin, your 1st pic is Christmas card worthy. Everything is beautiful as usual.

    1. user-7007498 12/18/2017

      Thanks. Right now, I love the snow. Come February, not.

  7. User avater
    meander_michaele 12/18/2017

    I gotta' admit...your rakish "winking" snowman got a big smile out of me...he seems so cute and happy in his natural element. Looks like you are nimble and competent on a two story ladder with those delightful wreathes adorning the upper windows. Your home looks (literally) picture perfect! And, I'll bet it is positively magical at night with the icicle lights outlining the roofline.
    I don't have either of the 2 grasses you have featured but it seems like they are real winter troopers which is such a plus.

    1. user-7007498 12/19/2017

      Thanks, Michaele. I love Halloween and Christmas decorations. Its a fun change from gardening. The house does look great at night.

      Those are my 2 favorite grasses, with my 3rd being Miscanthus 'Little Kitten'

  8. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 12/18/2017

    so much winter interest, Kevin. You've got such great structure in your garden and really great snow-catchers!

    1. user-7007498 12/19/2017

      Thanks so much, Tim. Snow is the reason not to "clean-up" the garden in the winter.

  9. cheryl_c 12/18/2017

    Hi, Kevin, Sure can't add much to what has already been said - anybody coming up your front walk would be assured of a warm welcome - your house is charming and you have finessed the landscape so beautifully to fit the style and size of the house! Some of us must have all become aware of how to make our winter gardens more beautiful at the same time - perhaps thanks to Fine Gardening? I always used to focus on perennials and natives, but have come to realize that our junipers, hollies arborvitae and even deciduous shrubs such as elderberry, blueberry, and caryopteris can bring such beauty to our winter gardens. No snow here yet, but we did finally get a half inch of rain yesterday, eliminating the red flag warnings! Small blessings are sometimes huge.

    1. user-7007498 12/19/2017

      Thanks, Cheryl. GPOD has been one of many educational tools for developing my style over time. I do love mixed borders and beds with all the plants you mentioned. Glad to here you got rain. We had a very wet summer, then dry fall. However, the last month we have had another 6 inches of rain and then 3 small snowfalls.

      1. cheryl_c 12/19/2017

        You are obviously a life-long learner - and your comment about designing the gardens that can be seen from inside the house struck a chord with me - we designed both our original home that we lost and the one that we rebuilt so that the windows would look out on the views that we most loved in this beautiful place. You might enjoy a book written by Julie Moir Messervy, called Home Outside: Creating the Landscape You Love. You have already done that, so it might be superfluous, but you might find even more ideas to use. Meanwhile, I will go back and look at your other posts again, and I'm glad to hear that GPOD is looking for more photos to be submitted!

        1. user-7007498 12/19/2017

          Thanks for the tip about the book. I will check it out. I love to read garden books, especially in the winter.

  10. user-4691082 12/18/2017

    Good morning Kevin. Your photos are lovely. I can just picture you out in the gently falling snow, taking all sorts of photos. Then you go inside to evaluate what you’ve captured and begin to edit. I love the bonus pictures. I have never seen a garden that is just as lovely in winter as it is in summer. Merry Christmas to you and Kathy!

    1. user-7007498 12/18/2017

      Thanks, Rhonda. Merry Christmas to you, John, and the rest of your family. I did enjoy going out in the snow to take the photos. That will not be the case by February. I have been working hard to improve the winter garden since I need to look at it for 3-4 months.

  11. cynthiamccain 12/18/2017

    Aaah...just the tonic I needed to get through these last hectic days before Christmas—a lovely and peaceful garden presented so beautifully under newly fallen snow. Please post more pictures—snowy or not. Thanks, Kevin!

    1. user-7007498 12/19/2017

      Thanks, Cynthia. My garden has been posted many times, so you can see other seasons by just searching my name.

      1. cynthiamccain 12/19/2017

        I’ll check them out!

  12. User avater
    DawnMT 12/18/2017

    Good morning Kevin. My husband and I moved to a 1/2 acre last year. Your pictures have inspired and shown me how much we can do! I am a conifer collector too and look forward to adding more every year. Our plan is to keep removing turf so we can incorporate more bird/pollinator habitat. Thank you again...your home is beautiful. Merry christmas to you and your family.

    1. user-7007498 12/19/2017

      Thanks, Dawn. It is amazing how much can be put into a small space. It's about creating small vignettes of densely packed plants separated by a large container, or birdbath, or something else. Keep up the good work on turf reduction. I have maintained just enough to serve as paths, or create a small break to rest the eye.

      1. User avater
        DawnMT 12/19/2017

        Thank you for your encouragment and helpful ideas!

  13. User avater
    LindaonWhidbey 12/18/2017

    Good morning, Kevin and thanks for these great snowy photos. Having experienced many snowy, cold winters, this is the way that I now like to view snow. Your garden is so full of great texture and interesting shapes so always a pleasure to have a tour. Love the grasses and all of your conifers. Happy Holidays to you and your family.

    1. user-7007498 12/19/2017

      Thanks, Linda, and Merry Christmas to you.

  14. tennisluv 12/18/2017

    Kevin, your home and garden are as lovely in the winter snow as it is all the other seasons. You and your wife have done a wonderful job of decorating your home for the holidays. The snowman greeter near your front door is sure to beckon visitors in. Of course every snow dusted plant you presented to us has me drooling to have one (or more) of each. Thanks for the additional photos and for identifying the Tsuga canadensis 'Cole's Prostrate' which was showing thru the Molina caeruleassp. arundinacea‘Skyracer’.

    1. user-7007498 12/19/2017

      Thanks, Sonya. We have fun with each of the seasons. I know it is helpful having the plants labeled, especially when you can't see and feel the plants in person.

  15. sheila_schultz 12/18/2017

    Photos of gardens in the winter months show the true bones of the design. Your work to make your gardens interesting all 4 seasons has paid off in spades, Kevin, they are definitely intriguing! The conifers alone are incredible, and when you add the grasses and assorted perennials that produce seedpods you have 12 months of interest!
    I appreciate your not understanding why gardeners sometimes do a severe cut down in the fall before the snows start falling, but... when heavy snows smoosh everything into a lumpy mess, that's pretty unsightly, and redoing entire gardens once we understand the error of our designs is often both physically and monetarily prohibitive. One thing for sure, my next gardens will have more grasses that have the ability to remain upright!!!

    1. user-7007498 12/19/2017

      Thanks, Sheila. You couldn't have stated it better. It's all about finding the best plants, and not being afraid to move out the weak links. I have also found that tighter placement helps neighboring support each other, also reducing flopping.

      1. sheila_schultz 12/19/2017

        You are almost right Kevin... but it's generally not being afraid to move or toss plants that keep most gardeners from making changes. It's coming up with a viable and pleasurable plan, the energy to do so and having the budget to make the right changes! Life, even in the garden, is never simple, but once in a while a delightful challenge!

  16. foxglove12 12/18/2017

    Thank you for your beautiful winter garden photos. So beautiful!

    1. user-7007498 12/19/2017

      Thanks, Lori.

  17. Meelianthus 12/18/2017

    Hello Kevin and happy holidays to you and your family. I always enjoy your lovely garden photos and these snow pics are beautiful, especially taken with the third photo - stunning! What fun to have a bit of snow for Christmas - and maybe more to come? Thanks for sharing your snow as we don't get much here on Bainbridge Is., if any.

    1. user-7007498 12/19/2017

      Thanks, Linda. Increasing the conifers into the beds and borders are critical to get me through the 3-4 months of garden downtime. I have focused on the most visible areas from inside the house

  18. Meelianthus 12/18/2017

    P.S. Just clicked onto your 'bonus' photos Kevin and your conifers are just beautiful. Can't imagine how you fit 145 onto your property! but they look like they are all quite comfortable there - and your home is most charming. :)

  19. user-7008735 12/18/2017

    You've done a beautiful job of integrating your home and garden, Kevin! Your efforts to provide four-season interest are definitely paying off. We rarely get snow in the city here in Vancouver but have been skiing in the mountains behind the city since December 3. I do love to see snow in the garden -- especially if I don't have to drive anywhere in it!

    1. frankgreenhalgh 12/18/2017

      Lovely pic., Lorraine. I'm surprised that Vancouver doesn't get much snow - I guess the moderating effect of the water (?).

      1. user-7008735 12/18/2017

        Thanks, Frank, but I can't take credit for that photo. You are right that the ocean has a moderating effect on our climate. We get warm, moist air off the Pacific that sometimes almost seems to carry the scent of Plumeria from Hawaii, but mostly carries rain in the winter. When the moist air collides with a cold Arctic outflow, we get snow, but mostly just on the mountains. When it does snow in the city, it's usually melted by the next day -- sometimes within a few hours.

        Last year was a strange exception; we had snowfall after snowfall along with cold temperatures that froze the snowbanks and made it last longer. It was beautiful, but most Vancouverites don't bother with snow tires, so it wreaked havoc on our already-crazy traffic. The bays, inlets, and fjords that wrap around our city make it a beautiful place to live, but all those bridges create bottlenecks at peak times. The photo below is 10 minutes from my home and where my husband and I kayak. Vancouverites like to tease our friends in the rest of Canada that we like to go skiing in the morning and boating in the afternoon on the same day. It's true, but these days just one of those activities is enough for me!

        1. frankgreenhalgh 12/18/2017

          Wow what a great lifestyle in and around a most beautiful city, Lorraine! You are doing well with one of the activities per day. Aussies really get on well with Canadians - perhaps there is a Commonwealth thing going on. The Commonwealth Games next April on the Sunshine coast in Queensland should be good.

          1. user-7008735 12/19/2017

            I wish I did manage to kayak or ski every day, Frank! It is a great area for recreational activities though I wish the ocean were warm like yours! I used to have a friend from Australia who was a teaching colleague for many years. We do have a great many cultural similarities despite all the differences.

        2. user-7007498 12/19/2017

          Wow, Lorraine, I am so jealous. What a beautiful area. Great photos.

          1. user-7008735 12/19/2017

            It is beautiful here, Kevin, but I can't take credit for those photos. The world is full of so many beautiful places! I hope we'll get to see another batch of your beautiful winter garden photos.

        3. user-6536305 12/21/2017

          Where is thisLorraine? Thanks for representing BC so well!

      2. sheila_schultz 12/19/2017

        Frank and Kevin... Vancouver is one of our fave cities! It's beautiful, charming and a gardener's paradise! Canada is pretty dreamy... so many possibilities!

        1. frankgreenhalgh 12/20/2017

          Thanks Sheila for the additional info. and endorsement of the beauty of Vancouver as well as the rest of Canada. I missed out on a visit to Canada for a Conference 2 years ago because I needed to attend a meeting in Vienna at the same time. My Aussie friends who have been to Canada rave about the beauty of the country and the friendliness of the people. I'm thinking that Sharon and I just need to bite the bullet and book tickets to travel to Canada etc.

          1. user-7008735 12/21/2017

            It's a long flight from Oz, but you'll have fun, Frank. I met an Australian couple yesterday at Granville Island Market who were having a great time. After telling you on Monday that we rarely get snow in the city, it snowed all day Tuesday! Yesterday was sunny, so everything was sparkling. If you and Sharon do decide to visit, let me know you're coming.

          2. frankgreenhalgh 12/22/2017

            Thanks for your generous offer, Lorraine - will do!

    2. tennisluv 12/18/2017

      Vancouver is a lovely city. And Whistler is a great skiing mecca.

      1. user-7008735 12/18/2017

        Thank you, Sonya. We sometimes drive to Whistler or Callaghan Valley where they held the 2010 Olympic cross-country skiing events, but mostly we ski the trails on Hollyburn at Cypress Mountain right behind the city. It takes us about 30 minutes from home up to the Hollyburn ski trails but nearly 1.5 hours to drive to Whistler.

    3. sheila_schultz 12/19/2017

      We would have moved to Vancouver years ago had the timing been right. It's an extraordinary city!

      1. user-7008735 12/19/2017

        You would have been welcome here, Sheila, but Denver is close to national parks with great natural beauty, too.

        1. sheila_schultz 12/19/2017

          Oh yes... the amazing parks close to Denver are extraordinary and we loved them all. Then, there are those certain cities around the world that hold the magical charm, places we know would make us happy too! So many possibilities! So little time!

    4. user-6536305 12/21/2017

      Where is this Lorraine? You certainly represent BC well. Thanks! Hope to see you around soon and see your garden in the spring.

      1. user-7008735 12/21/2017

        Hi Lilian, It's a view across English Bay towards Beach Avenue and the West End. Stanley Park is off to the left (not showing) and the Burrard Bridge is to the right but not in the picture. You can just make out the cut for the skyride up Grouse Mtn on the right. I'm not sure how old this photo is, but a photo taken further to the right today would show a lot more tall towers downtown.

    5. user-7007125 12/25/2017

      Was born in Vancouver... what a stunning picture! I still live on the mainland and make it a point to visit Vancouver proper in every season. Everything can and will change but the mountains and ocean.

      1. user-7008735 12/27/2017

        It is a great place to call home, isn't it, Diane? Vancouver has changed a great deal in my lifetime, but the juxtaposition of mountain and water is still special.

  20. Chris_N 12/18/2017

    You've done a great job, Kevin. Truly an inspiration.

    1. user-7007498 12/19/2017

      Thanks. I have been working hard on improving the winter landscape.

  21. Sunshine111 12/18/2017

    You’re an inspiration to everyone Kevin! Merry Christmas.

    1. user-7007498 12/19/2017

      Thanks, Lily. Merry Christmas to you, as well.

  22. user-5117752 12/19/2017

    How merry you have made the season!!! Beautiful pics!!!!!

    1. user-7007498 12/19/2017

      Thanks, Judy. Glad you enjoyed them.

  23. user-6536305 12/20/2017

    Great winter garden! Thanks for sharing!

  24. perenniallycrazy 12/21/2017

    Loving your winter wonderland Kevin. I hope you are enjoying it and not bogged down by any garden chores. That's the happiest snowman I have ever seen. Happy Holidays to you and yours!

    1. user-7007498 12/21/2017

      Thanks, Cherry. I just saw you had replied on the post. This is a fun time of year. Definitely getting a well needed break from gardening, and setting up the Christmas decorations on and around the house satisfies my desire to be outdoors doing something.

      Happy Holidays to you as well.

  25. user-7007125 12/25/2017

    love your pictures of the snow on the plants....we race along far to quickly and many times miss simple beauty

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