By Nicole LaPlante 
Land Art Fine Gardening

One of the first questions I get from folks when I tell them I’m a professional gardener is: so what do you do all winter? This is a fair question because, in USDA Zone 4, the dormant season is quite lengthy. Gardens are prepared for dormancy by October and don’t completely emerge from snow cover until mid-April. My winter is quiet, but no less busy. 

Important things get done in these coldest of months: dormant pruning; planning garden fostering and construction schedules for the year; and my favorite: nurturing my imagination. I do this by sorting through before-and-after pictures of previous seasons, thinking about what worked and what needs improvement; going on outdoor adventures, consciously noticing Nature’s use of artistic elements like line, shape, shadow, space; and pouring through print and online resources, either for technical education or to virtually explore gardens around the world in search of new inspiration. Physical travel to witness others’ creations is typically part of my winter, too. Direct experience of and immersion in place leave the most lasting impressions.

Nurturing the imagination may outwardly appear to be time spent in a selfish or frivolous manner; I say it is imperative. Maintaining a fresh flow of ideas and experiences is necessary to recharge a healthy and active creative well. By nurturing our imagination, we are best prepared to sustain joyful dedication to our garden practices. 


*Follies like the larger-than-life glacial deposit along an Adirondack hiking trail (first photo by Nicole LaPlante) inspire the use of significant granite pieces in the garden (second photo by Bob Rainville, Focal Blue Photography).

Nicole LaPlante is owner of Land Art Fine Gardening in Peru, NY.