Winter interest.

There’s not much winter interest going on in my flowerbeds right now…there’s a nice homogenous blanket of snow, though! Ah, when will spring ever arrive? 🙂

A few days before we received another massive dump of the white stuff, my hubby and I managed to get out for a hike at the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area, located southwest of the Calgary city limits. Donated by Sandy Cross (son of A.E. Cross, one of the founding members of the world-famous Calgary Stampede) and his wife Ann to the Province of Alberta in 1987 and 1996, this wildlife preserve consists of 4,800 acres of prairie land in the foothills of the Canadian Rocky Mountains.


View from one of the outlooks at the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area. (Photo credit:  R. Normandeau)

The Area is carefully managed to minimize the impact of its users on the land and on the animals that inhabit it – it is necessary to prebook hikes online in advance and pay a small day use fee upon arrival.  You cannot cross-country ski and no dogs are allowed on the property.  (You also have to park your vehicle in a separate lot and walk in).

As always, what strikes me about hiking in the winter is the way everything stands out against the snow. Animal tracks and leavings, moss and lichens, the stubble of fescue, tufts of hair caught on a barbed wire fence…these are all things you might miss in the green riot of spring and summer.



(Photo credit:  R. Normandeau)




We believe this patch of hair belongs to one of the many head of cattle that are currently winter grazing on the property.  (Photo credit:  R. Normandeau)


(Photo credit:  R. Normandeau)

Do you like the term “winter interest” (with or without snow) in regards to landscape design? Is it something you consider in your own garden?


  1. I enjoyed your lovely winter tour! Yes, I do consider winter interest in my garden by not pruning and cleaning up perennials as they look lovely with frost or snow on them…

    Blessings ~ Wendy

  2. Lovely photos Sheryl. I’m afraid I don’t much like that term “winter interest” as my garden is just DEAD in winter! I get a bit frustrated even with regional gardening TV programmes telling me what to do in January, when in fact the ground is frozen hard and everything is brown and soggy or covered in snow! I love winter landscapes, and think winter interest is everywhere, but not the way it’s portrayed in the magazines and TV shows!

    • Thanks, Cathy! I was doing some reading the other day and it seems there’s a bit of a backlash towards the term “winter interest” (but for the life of me I can’t place where I found the article. If I find it again, I’ll post a link here). It’s true, depending on your geographical region, most of our gardens don’t look that brilliant in the winter (particularly if they’re completely buried under snow!). It’s just unavoidable. I don’t cut back my perennials, so if we have a Chinook, you might see a few seed pods poking up or something, but it’s more comical than pretty in my garden! 😉 I need to put in some tall grasses or something, perhaps!

      • That article would interest me if you do find it Sheryl – thanks. I have several grasses, including a small Miscanthus, but even that got squashed by the early (very wet) snow we had in the late autumn… I love Boomdeeadda’s idea of using an arbour, gate etc as winter interest – that gate you linked to is gorgeous! 😀

  3. It actually is something I consider which is why I leave up my plants and do not cut back the garden in fall…I also planted red twig dogwood for winter interest…love your photos…our 4 ft of snow melted so now we wait for more snow to insulate the garden from the cold coming.

    • Our “big melt” comes sometime this week…we have a Chinook rolling in. The freeze/thaw cycles are so hard on the plants! Hope you get a bit more snow soon to cover your garden! Oh, and I love any of the red dogwoods, as well, they definitely stand out beautifully against the snow. Perhaps, for me, there’s more “winter interest” in the bark, habit, and textures of trees and shrubs.

  4. We generally get loads of snow, so everything would be buried in giant drifts. In my future yard I’d like to try and create winter interest with Hard-scapes, like an arbour or cute gate more than plants and shrubs.

  5. I love you hike. I never go anywhere without JT so I am sure there are places I will miss but this winter has been a little different since I have a blog I actually set out to do things besides sit and bead day after day . I enjoyed your day!

    • Thanks so much for your comment! If you get a chance to head out to the Cross Conservation Area, it’s definitely recommended!

      I love it that you draw inspiration from your garden for your painting all year ’round. Too often (usually because of the weather), many of us don’t spend time out in our gardens – or out in nature – during the winter. We don’t see all of the beauty in every season. That’s a great challenge.

      Yes, wasn’t the hail absolutely devastating this past summer? So sorry to hear that your plants were hit. (I was fairly lucky, although some of my veggies didn’t make it). We have such a short growing season as it is, and it’s difficult to rebound after the plants take such a brutal beating. We’ll keep our fingers crossed for a storm-free 2013 season!

      Have a fantastic day! I look forward to reading all of your future blog posts! 🙂

  6. What a beautiful place to go for a hike! I rarely get out in the winter – I hate the cold. But I think even I would get out and hike there! Gorgeous! As for winter interest, yes, I plan for it in my garden, which is sometimes a bit silly because we have such a short winter. Still, I don’t think a garden would be complete without some evergreens or other such ‘winter interest’.

    • I agree – I think evergreens (even small ones) are great anchors anyway, they give a little structure to the garden. I think I would do a bit more in regards to winter interest if we didn’t get so much snow. 🙂

      Have a fabulous day!

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