Enliven the Garden in Winter

Ornaments, sculpture, light and wildlife keep things lively in the backyard.

Chinese lanterns

A bouquet of Chinese lanterns (Physalis sp.). Keep in mind that this plant is considered invasive, so plant with care. Or, add our fabric Chinese Lantern LED Lights to a display — completely noninvasive!


Attract birds with a feeder, such as the Mixed Seed Globe Cage Feeder, which holds 3 cups of any type of seed — even small seed, such as millet and thistle.

My garden doesn't get much attention after fall clean-up chores are done. Once everything is in the shed, I close the door and go in the house. There are seed catalogs to browse, and there's cocoa to drink. But by the time we get our first snowfall, I'm reminded that the winter garden can be a beautiful and lively place, too.

One of my "reminders" is the display at Stray Cat Flower Farm, a tiny shop I pass on the way to work. Owner Diana Doll has found many ways to create lively displays during the winter. Recently, a fencepost was decorated with a bunch of bright-orange Chinese lanterns (Physalis sp.). The simple display looks great and, as Diana says, "you can throw the whole thing in the compost when it no longer looks fresh."

With a few well-placed ornaments and some nature-themed ideas, you can enliven a winter landscape. Here are some ideas:

  • Add lights whenever you can. Take advantage of shorter days and put them on a timer.
  • Use nature-inspired creativity, such as dried grass stalks, seedheads and vines.
  • Showcase garden decor, such as gazing globes, sculpture, tuteurs and trellises.
  • Encourage wildlife to visit by setting out birdfeeders and other attractions.

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