The garden is truly transparent, finally, and with a shift in our eyes and attitudes we can see the beauty of branches and bark, of tree trunk and even bare ground. The garden and world around us is revealed unadorned by flower or leaf, except for broadleaf evergreens like rhodies and some magnolias, counterpoints of green in a mostly brown and gray landscape.
The garden is mostly clothed in bark, in conifer needles. It's down to the starkness of shape and form and line, like the bad-hair-day Corokia cotoneaster, left, with its wild, twiggy swirl.
When the leaves drop, and perennials melted down to black mush by a week of freezing weather, the outside world looks stark, shadowy, bare.
But look again, as Seattle artist Evelyn Woods does in her tree portraits. Woods had a one-woman show of her work at Davidson Galleries last summer entitled "Dwellers", and you can sense the soul of the tree, its spirit, and the beauty of its imperfections in her oil paintings (see more, or contact the artist, on the Davidson Galleries website).
If we can soften our eyes, appreciate the winter light whether misty, gray, or sun so low and lucid it stings, the more we'll see the beauty that remains when the garden sinks quietly into its winter sleep...