Last week on the walk back up our drive way from the bus stop, it started to snow. The little hand that I was holding tightened round mine and squeals of delight followed. My first reaction wasn’t exactly the same sentiment. But I snapped out of it because Felix was just so darn excited.

“Momma do you know who Loooves snow?”

“Who?” I said as we loaded into the car for daycare.

“Santa!” I laughed and he continued on about how much he loved snow too and listing everything he wanted to do in it.

It got me thinking… When did I start to dread winter? I remember when I was little hearing grown-ups talk about the dreaded season and thinking what’s wrong with it? It’s not so bad! Wait did this mean that I’m now those grown ups I thought were sooo old?

I do love the change of season but I know I’m not alone in feeling down right depressed at the thought of layers and boots and scraping the car… ok I’ll stop there. Winter is a fact of life for Maritimers and one that we need to face and dare say embrace. So rather than planning our lives and landscapes for the “smaller seasons” we should look at winter in a different light.

Speaking of, light is a big thing when the days are short. Currently I’m working on a new build project and some would say that starting from scratch is the easiest but I wouldn’t totally agree.

With a fresh piece of ground taking the time to locate and position the building is key. Capturing the optimal sun exposure can make a big difference in how you experience the space. (Check out this neat interactive map at suncalc.net).

Can you think about sitting in a sunny spot on a winter day? Out of the direct wind, maybe on a rock? I think that the sun feels better in those moments than hot sunny days all summer. When designing an outdoor space take the elements into consideration. Building microclimates by structuring a windbreak and locating it in the optimal sun path, will give you a space that can be enjoyed all year long. Windbreaks don’t have to be solid either.

Absorbing the winds energy with a “soft” feature is more successful. Ornamental grasses are great for this and work in winter so don’t cut them down just yet. Do some research and you will see the plethora of options. Talk to Bob at West River Greenhouses or Jeanette at the Green Thumb. They, along with their staff, are full of information and come spring, will have plenty stock to choose from.

Ultimately being outside as much as possible is so good for us. Especially given the amount we spend indoors on a daily bases.

So embrace your inner child and pull on those boots. It’s not all bad!

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Rachael McLean
Rachael MacLean is a landscape architect from the back woods of Lovat and has a love/hate relationship with Fall. School starts – LOVE. Change of air – LOVE, harvest – LOVE, colour – LOVE... wait! maybe Fall isn’t that bad after all. This issue she was reminded that beauty is in every detail and it all starts with a seed. Join me for a “Seedy Conversation” and pick up some tips to get a jump on your next growing season.