Right now you're probably thinking: "It's 22 degrees outside! The only thing I'm planning is what kind of hot cocoa to drink while I'm under two feet of fleece watching the entire Harry Potter series!"
Listen, that sounds good. I'm writing this while drinking a hot, homemade mocha. But I have learned that it is best to plan ahead. For one thing, while everything is dead/dormant, it is easy to spot where your plot could benefit from new perennials, hardscaping or decorative features. Two, the landscape is dreary and it lifts the spirits to turn your mind towards spring and all the beautiful, fragrant, delicious things you'll be growing. Third, (and probably the most important for me) having a plan will prevent you from going crazy in the spring when the nurseries put out their plants, seeds, and amendments.
Looking outside, I can see that the laurels that we put in last summer really perk up the landscape. They are still lush and green while most of our plants have dropped all their leaves or have died back entirely. More laurels are going on the list for this year. The supports that I used to twine the blackberry vines keep toppling over. However, they are beautiful and add some architectural interest. As soon as I figure out how to stake them I will be completely happy. I like them so much I am planning to add more to a different part of the the yard. The edging put in by the quite unprofessional landscaper has to be removed and replaced with the rock that we have started installing elsewhere.
Laurels at the back of the yard. These will put on at least 7 more feet of height and will spread some to give the yard more privacy. I am thinking of putting in a bench or some statuary to liven this up.
All the mints and herbs have gone bye-bye. Looking at my plan, I still have so much to do. Chamomile, lupine, various mints and ferns are the main items to put in. The entire shed area is just sad. Everything around the building is dead, brown weeds and now is the time to plan the landscaping around it. I have to pick a stain. The husband and I had a miscommunication, I thought he was going to pick the stain and do it when he had time, and he thought I was supposed to pick the stain and let him know when to do it. Oh well. It will be a good spring project. I just have to get it all laid out. I sometimes suffer from analysis paralysis, which is one reason why it was so great to have someone else plan out the landscaping closest to the house.
The blueberry mounds. That weedy area behind it needs to be ripped out and replaced with some groundcover to sharpen up the look
I tend to suffer from irrational exuberance in the spring. I pull up to the nursery, and I just get overwhelmed! Every type of flowering and fruiting tree! Chocolate mint! Pineapple mint! Orange mint! Strawberries! Tomatoes! Hostas! Pansies! And blueberries! Lordy, the blueberries! I am a sucker for blueberries. I must have at least six kinds and will probably end up with six more. It's a huge challenge to see a blueberry I don't have yet and walk out with out it, even if I don't know where I'm going to put it! Luckily, they are perennial so I have time to find a spot. I am ashamed to say that I have had more than one annual herb or vegetable die because I bought it on impulse and didn't find a place for it in time. NO more! From now on I will practice responsible plant purchasing.
The seed/plant companies are already gearing up for spring. Even some of the home improvement stores already have their seed-starting materials out. I was very tempted to get some, but I am sticking to my plan.
I hope you will also use this time to plan out what you want to plant next spring. Even if you have a small yard or only a sunny balcony, start thinking about it now. In much the same way that some of us are hitting the gym and coming up with new meal plans so that we can look cute in our shorts come May, we should also give a little thought to gardening plans so that we can be sipping iced mint tea and dining on spinach salad from our own yards as well.