The Garden In Winter

Green Spring Gardens“What does the staff do at Green Spring Gardens in the winter time? Do you take the season off?” We hear those questions regularly, and our first thought is…

There’s too much to do. Learning, planning the next gardening cycle, and designing. And if you want improvements in your garden and landscape, you can come learn side-by-side with Green Spring staff through the winter.

In winter, we learn. As gardens take their long winter’s nap, gardeners have time to teach and learn from others. We pour over books and periodicals and attend lectures by horticultural experts. Green Spring Gardens invites gardening experts to share information during our Harry Allen Winter Lecture Series. This series, sponsored by the Friends of Green Spring, provides affordable, valuable lectures for the staff and for gardeners like you. Check the schedule online and come learn along with us.

In winter, we plan. Oh, do we plan! We look at our garden successes and failures and determine what plants we will grow the next year. We pour over seed catalogs and deliberate our choices. Emails go round about who wants to share a seed lot of Echinacea ‘Cheyenne Spirit’ and who had success growing the new cultivar of Gomphrena ‘Fireworks.’  I am, for some inexplicable reason, drawn to the color red for the 2015 Children’s Discovery Garden, so I have a plan for plant combinations like red Pentas and ‘Black Pearl’ ornamental pepper. Love it!

Black Pearl Pepper

Black Pearl Pepper

The summer garden starts in winter. Select the seeds to order, then pot, nurture and divide. Seedlings and cuttings take a lot of care, but the plant selections and cost savings are great. You can do this with us. Join us for a class and hear Green Spring staff and other gardening experts share their knowledge.

In winter, we design. Some design projects produce small changes, and some are large projects like the gazebo renovation. The final stages of that renovation should occur in early 2015, so new planting designs have been drawn up for the gardens surrounding the structure. The gardens graduate from shade to sun, so the plants for those areas vary greatly, and bringing the area together visually is a challenge.

Gardens require planning, and winter is the perfect time for you to reflect on your own garden spaces. What did you like or not like? Some plants, no doubt, worked better than others in your garden. Figure out why and you will have a better understanding of what to plant in 2015. Use your camera for a quick and easy visual record of successes and failures. The knowledge you gain will translate into a beautiful, well-thought-out garden space for you.

So, back to the question of “what do you do in the winter?” As gardeners, we learn, we plan, we design – and we dream of warmer days.

Author Susan Eggerton is the program coordinator at Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, Virginia. 703-642-5173.

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About Fairfax County Park Authority

About Fairfax County Park Authority HISTORY: On December 6, 1950, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors created the Fairfax County Park Authority. The Park Authority was authorized to make decisions concerning land acquisition, park development and operations in Fairfax County, Virginia. To date, 13 park bond referenda have been approved between 1959 and 2016. Today, the Park Authority has 427 parks on more than 23,000 acres of land. We offer 325 miles of trails, our most popular amenity. FACILITIES: The Park system is the primary public mechanism in Fairfax County for the preservation of environmentally sensitive land and resources, areas of historic significance and the provision of recreational facilities and services including: • Nine indoor RECenters with swimming pools, fitness rooms, gyms and class spaces. Cub Run features an indoor water park and on-site naturalist • Eight golf courses from par-3 to championship level, four driving ranges including the new state-of-the-art heated, covered range at Burke Lake Golf Center • Five nature and visitor centers. Also nine Off-Leash Dog Activity areas • Three lakefront parks including Lake Fairfax, Lake Accotink and Burke Lake, with campgrounds at Burke Lake and Lake Fairfax. The Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole at Lake Fairfax, Our Special Harbor Sprayground at Lee as well as an indoor water park at Cub Run RECenter • Clemyjontri Park, a fully accessible playground in Great Falls featuring two acres of family friendly fun and a carousel, as well as Chessie’s Big Backyard and a carousel at the Family Recreation Area at Lee District Park • An ice skating rink at Mount Vernon RECenter and the Skate Park in Wakefield Park adjacent to Audrey Moore RECenter • Kidwell Farm, a working farm of the 1930s-era at Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon, now with historic carousel • Eight distinctive historic properties available for rent • A working grist mill at Colvin Run in Great Falls and a restored 18th century home at Sully Historic Site in Chantilly • A horticulture center at Green Spring Gardens in Annandale • Natural and cultural resources protected by the Natural Resource Management Plan and Cultural Resource Plans, plus an Invasive Management Area program that targets alien plants and utilizes volunteers in restoring native vegetation throughout our community • Picnic shelters, tennis courts, miniature golf courses, disc golf courses, off-leash dog parks, amphitheaters, a marina, kayaking/canoeing center • Provides 263 athletic fields, including 39 synthetic turf fields, and manages athletic field maintenance services at 417 school athletic fields. PARK AUTHORITY BOARD: A 12-member citizen board, appointed by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, sets policies and priorities for the Fairfax County Park Authority. Visit for Fairfax County Government's Comment Policy.

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