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As spring nears, we imagine ourselves smelling the roses and plucking tulips to liven up our home. But before we celebrate the changing of seasons, let’s embrace the beauty found in the starkness of winter landscapes. The bareness of the branches, freshly fallen snow and subtle scale of colors are what brings drama to wintertime. Before your garden fully awakens from its winter sleep, soak in its incomparable winter beauty that you will have to wait many months to see again. Embrace the exposed landscape because in no time at all, blooming buds will herald the arrival of spring, and the haunting beauty of your winter gardens will be quickly forgotten.

“Winter brings clarity to the structure of the landscape. It reveals nuances of the beauty of the architecture and architectural spatial relationships,” says landscape architect Ben Page of Page|Duke Landscape Architects. “It is a very calm time of year when you can focus on a few beautiful, small details. It is one of my favorite seasons because of the revelatory process of seeing the architecture of landscapes unadorned by flowers. I love flowers and the splendor of flowers, but there is something calm about a winter landscape and subtle colors.”

Today, Ben Page takes us on a stroll through two striking winter gardens.

Bare Birmingham Garden

This garden is bare, which in this case is meant as a compliment. Without the summer blooms, each architectural element can shine. “This project is all about spectacular architecture. And it was fun for us in that we were able to marry a bold statement of French architecture with a very romantic landscape,” Ben says. “It was fun for us to take very commanding architecture and essentially mitigate the impact of the architecture with the landscape. Nuances and shadows are really a big deal in the space.”

In the Birmingham climate, Southern species are able to thrive. Plant life includes camellias, azaleas, magnolias, crape myrtles (for seasonal color) and osmanthus (for fragrance). It was a disciplined plant palette, according to Ben. “The camellias would be lost in the summertime, but in the winter, when they are in full bloom, they are a commanding presence,” he shares. Each decision was made to showcase the texture in the sculptures, which is emblematic of the textures throughout the garden.

Stroll Through These Two Hauntingly Beautiful Winter Gardens

The architecture of the walkways reinforces the inside/outside relationship of the home and garden.

Stroll Through These Two Hauntingly Beautiful Winter Gardens

Walls were constructed to insure privacy for the homeowners.

Stroll Through These Two Hauntingly Beautiful Winter Gardens

About 3,000 daffodils were planted and will be the first to bloom, come spring. Due to the warm weather, they are most likely already in bloom and will be quickly followed by witch hazel, then the magnolias, the dogwoods, then the crepe myrtles.

Stroll Through These Two Hauntingly Beautiful Winter Gardens

The eye is drawn to the unique antique sculptures in the garden.

Stroll Through These Two Hauntingly Beautiful Winter Gardens

The garden was designed with an appreciation for balance and symmetry.

Stroll Through These Two Hauntingly Beautiful Winter Gardens

The bare branches making this garden hauntingly beautiful come wintertime.

Stroll Through These Two Hauntingly Beautiful Winter Gardens

Bright colors fell away with fall, but the garden still sees life with the greenery of the shrubs.

Stroll Through These Two Hauntingly Beautiful Winter Gardens

This house sits on a hill, which means there are stunning views from just about every direction.

Stroll Through These Two Hauntingly Beautiful Winter Gardens

This winter garden is not lacking in texture or color.

Stroll Through These Two Hauntingly Beautiful Winter Gardens

Winter gardens offer a sense of calm and peacefulness.

Winter Landscape with Seasonal Interest

This Nashville project has gone through several phases, with the first being the initial acquisition of the house and the addition of a small garden and small pool. After the homeowner acquired more property, it allowed for Page|Duke Landscape Architects to expand the scope of the project, almost tripling the size of the landscaped space. “The huge landscape has lots of seasonal interest — primarily indigenous plants and grasses and holly berries,” Ben says. The homeowner has an interest in wildlife management, so a lot of things were planted specifically to nurture wildlife. The eye is drawn to the expansive lawn, which is home to much activity in the warmer months. The second phase of the garden project had a focus on the native grasses in the lawn and bold displays of flowering shrubs. The connecting link between the two phases of the garden is the pavilion, which houses seating and an outdoor fireplace. Ben categorizes this as a social space for the homeowners.

Stroll Through These Two Hauntingly Beautiful Winter Gardens

A layer of snow adds elegance to the space.

Stroll Through These Two Hauntingly Beautiful Winter Gardens

The pavilion connects phase one and phase two of this garden project.

Stroll Through These Two Hauntingly Beautiful Winter Gardens

Add texture with walkways. Use of stone will create depth during any season.

Stroll Through These Two Hauntingly Beautiful Winter Gardens

This antique fountain stands out in the garden.

Stroll Through These Two Hauntingly Beautiful Winter Gardens

We adore the details of the fountain!

Stroll Through These Two Hauntingly Beautiful Winter Gardens

The pavilion acts as a social area in the summer time.

Stroll Through These Two Hauntingly Beautiful Winter Gardens

Although you might not be taking a dip in the winter, the beauty of a pool can be enjoyed year-round!

Stroll Through These Two Hauntingly Beautiful Winter Gardens

Even under a blanket of snow the grass makes an impact in the garden.

Stroll Through These Two Hauntingly Beautiful Winter Gardens

The berries add color to otherwise gray winter gardens.

Stroll Through These Two Hauntingly Beautiful Winter Gardens

There is plenty to see in winter gardens, you just have to know where to look!

“Do not be discouraged or intimidated by winter,” Ben reminds us. “It can be the most elegant of any season because it’s a quiet season, one in which the garden can become really important in your life. Enjoy the beauty and simplicity of the refined textures of winter. It is a really special time of the year in this part of the world.”

We are a-okay with the groundhog seeing his shadow as long as we can continue to enjoy beautiful gardens like these!

Thanks to Page|Duke Landscape Architects’s Ben Page for showing us these beautiful gardens! The lovely photos were taken by the late John Chiasson. 

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