Pushing Back the Winter Blues – Picayune Item

By Felder Rushing

A The red cardinal pecking at my window was enough to wake me from my chair and look for ways to nip a surprising fit of the winter blues in the bud.

I can understand how much longer, colder evenings affect our circadian rhythms, but for some reason the end of daylight saving time this year triggered an early episode of Seasonal Affective Disorder, making me gloomier. than usual.

So, I’m exploring little ways to get away from the constant emotional snacks caused by the flickering flames of the TV. And I found some ideas for accessorizing the dark garden for some sensory inspiration.

For years, I have designed in the quiet of the garden through the oriental practice called feng shui (fung-shway), a set of general principles for creating more calming and comfortable arrangements of plants and materials.

Its goal is to maximize good feelings while reducing subtle sources of anxiety. This is to mitigate excessive straight lines, sharp angles, narrow steps and steps, poor lighting, clutter, contrasting colors, competing sounds, exposure to inclement weather, difficult plant choices. , etc., to improve the general ambience of a garden. Get rid of the things that cause grudges and add more pleasures.

It’s pretty easy in normal weather. Banish bothersome views with neatly placed plants and scattered fence-shaped screens without blocking out good views and cool summer breezes. Lose some of the straight lines by gently curving the lawn between the lawn and the flower beds, getting rid of tight bends to make mowing easier. Soften or round corners and break up sturdy fences or sheared hedges with an irregular plant, sculpture, birdbath, driftwood or other unusual object, or wall hanging.

Eliminate clutter by consolidating plantings, and in the process gradually lose high-maintenance plants, replacing them with simple species of different sizes, shapes, colors and scents for ever-changing interest in all seasons.

In a more sensory vein, do all you can to attract the color, movement, and drama of the garden’s wildlife. Set up a simple fountain with a splash fountain that faces where you’re sitting to better enjoy the soothing sounds, and add a simple fire function for those chilly evenings. Hang up a wind chime, install weatherproof bluetooth speakers.

In other words, make at least part of your outdoor space more inviting, interesting, comfortable, and safe, like a cozy living room rather than a sterile visiting room.

This is where the red bird gave me winter inspiration. To stop him racking his brains at my window, I installed a large mirror for him on an exterior north-facing wall, which had the unexpected effect of making my little garden look bigger and reflecting the light, color and movement of an otherwise dark and dreary area.

I hung gnarled crepe myrtle branches to keep birds from thinking the mirror is an open flyway; they also provide easy perches and make it look like I have double everything including birds.

Taking one more step, I positioned reflective “observation ball” orbs and hanging glass ornaments to reflect ambient light and dispel darkness in dark spots. Striped liriope and other light-colored border plants brighten up the walks, but I also carefully arranged low-voltage nighttime lighting to reveal hidden steps, highlight tree trunks, and accentuate strategic spots. I even hung a chandelier from my covered pergola where I spend a lot of time on a porch swing by the blazing winter fire and splashing waterfall.

Take a stroll through your backyard at dusk, see where you could work into a few of these relaxing ideas. Just thinking about it sets in motion the good vibrations we so badly need.

Felder Rushing is a Mississippi writer, columnist, and host of the “Gestalt Gardener” on MPB Think Radio. Email your gardening questions to [email protected]

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