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If you are like me, come spring your garden starts breeding an abundant, energy intensive list of chores, such as cleaning, weeding, annual planting, watering, feeding, cutting the grass, planting more grass, steps 1, 2, 3 and 4, mulching, deadheading, cleaning again, replanting, a lot more watering, more deadheading, planting bulbs, digging out bulbs, fall cleaning and raking of leaves, pruning, protecting tender perennials, and finally giving thanks for the arrival of winter you abandon all interest for the outdoors till spring.

You put a lot of time and energy into maintaining your garden for three seasons and it is only fair that your garden should reward you with the fruits of your labor. What if you plan for scent and beauty and your garden fully delivers, and then on top of that it also gives back an abundance of food for your table, provides for next year’s harvest, offers fragrant herbs and flowers for perfume, skin care, remedies for minor health ailments, habitat for little critters, birds and butterflies that will enchant you with color and sound, and colorful contrasting shapes and colors in the dead of winter.

In the tradition of the kitchen garden, where vegetables and flowers grow together, your garden can reward you with produce beyond expectation. It only takes a little planning and picking the appropriate locations for planting. Remember, a plant will produce more blooms, fruit, and fragrance in the tiniest spot where it receives what it needs (which is usually lots of sunlight, plenty of water and reasonable fertilizing) than in a large spot where any of the above are lacking. That makes the shade loving companions even more valuable, for they provide color and texture in spots where nothing else will thrive.

If you thought that winter was supposed to be the off season, think again: winter is the time for the colorful twigs and berries to show off in bright contrast with the snow. Also, winter is the time to feed the birds, and if you have ever seen a cardinal bird on a black branch, on a background of fresh fallen snow, you can’t think of the winter landscape as drab anymore.

In addition to that, winter is the most important season for garden planning, starting seeds indoors, organizing and using the plant material you gathered all summer long to make herbal remedies and scented sachets.

Last, but not least, winter is the season to enjoy your warmer climate plants indoors. The bright yellow of lemons in your little lemon tree will cheer you up on a dreary February afternoon.

So read and enjoy.