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When a master painter sits down to create their next work of art, they start at the same point each and every time. They stare at a stark white canvas, void of guides, inspiration, or cues on how or where to start. They impart beauty on this clean slate from images formed in the mind, inspiration from past experiences or feelings they want to express for all to see – they dip into a mental and physical palette and begin their journey.

So, why the discussion about painting in a recycling Blog you may ask? Because for gardeners that are handcuffed by the weather right now, this is the time to dream, this is the time to plan, and this is the time to decide how you want your garden to look come spring. After a fresh blanket of snow in the yard, take a moment to reflect, as this has become your white canvas with which to fill in color as you see fit. There are no mistakes right now, only possibilities in your mind.

You have nothing but time right now, so do not rush the final picture of how you want your yard to look, but also, do not leave your perfect landscape locked away in your mind. Next month we will talk about how to map out a strategy, so this month free your mind, every time you have a good idea write it down in a small notebook, or send yourself an email with your thoughts (this may sound a bit strange, but in a couple of weeks you will have a nice list with which to start planning).

If you are more of the material and less of the ethereal, fear not, you can still get a visual, and even save some time come spring. Some would say buy some spray paint and paint the snow where you envision beds, flowers and other plantings, but being a “green” company, I cannot recommend this in good conscience. Instead, make a few wooden stakes, pound them into the frozen tundra and string some rope around them to get a more accurate portrayal of what your thoughts look like. If you do not like what you see, move the stakes. If you have found the perfect garden plan for spring, leave the stakes in and when the snow thaws your winter guides will remain standing and you can hit the ground running.

Truth be told, for many of us, all we can do right now is dream, cut out photos from magazines for our “wish” garden, and count the days until spring arrives. Who knows, with some thoughtful planning, your winter dream may become a summer reality. While some prefer a brush to create their masterpieces…I prefer a wild imagination and a strong shovel!