A Midwestern Flower Garden — Beautifully Dead In the Dead of Winter

rudbeckia, echinacea and liatris grow along garden walk between a shingled house and a woods near minneapolis. Photo by Barbara Newhall

In summer: Yellow and pink rudbeckia, purple spiked liatris, echinacea.

A Midwestern flower garden under six inches of snow in February with dead flower stalks and leaves. Photo by Barbara Newhall

In winter: Faded remnants of last summer’s glory. Photos by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

We were invited for lunch, and yes the lunch was lovely, and so was the company. But I couldn’t wait to grab my trusty point-and-shoot and head outdoors to see how my favorite flower garden was faring under a half foot of snow and temperatures below zero.

Animal tracks in the snow through a Midwestern flower garden in winter. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Photo by Barbara Newhall

Apparently, my hosts — the gardeners — were willing to leave their flower garden to fend for itself during the chill, late winter weather of the northern Midwest: the only footprints I spotted in their garden were animal tracks, and there were plenty of those.

Frozen north though this was, there was no shortage of wildlife criss-crossing the yard and the lake beyond, my hostess told me: Squirrels red and gray, chipmunks, rabbits, mice, voles, racoons, mink, deer, coyote and red fox. Also, bald eagles, great horned owls, cardinals, woodpeckers, goldfinches and chickadees.

By the time my point-and-shoot and I were finished with our chilly ramble through leafless trees and faded flower stalks, the animal footprints had company — the clumpy tracks of a well-shod human.

A frozen lake surrounded by trees, snow and animal track in the Midwest in winter. Photo by Barbara Newhall

In winter the flower garden’s view of the lake opens up as trees lose their leaves and the dense underbrush dies back. Photo by Barbara Newhall


An oak leaf settles into the snow on a frozen day in the Midwest. Photo by Barbara Newhall


Barbara Newhall's boot prints mingle in the snow with the footprints of woodland animals. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Animal tracks: Small, furry crittters and one big mammal with a camera. Photos by Barbara Newhall

For more photos of my favorite garden in summer, go to “Point-and-Shoot Heaven — Photographing a Garden Just Before Dusk.” For a glimpse of my not-quite-so-splendid garden go to “My Rain-Battered Garden — Nothing is Forever, Not Even Those Poppies.”


  1. Liz Nystrom says:

    I enjoyed this and thank you for sharing your insight.

  2. carmelle Tidd says:

    I have started reading your book, Wrestling With God. This is a good book for those of us trying to find our way back to God, or the Divine. I used to be a radical Christian, then lost all of that. I am seeking and searching, so your book is a great read for people who are searching to find out how others have found their way back to God. I am also finding books about Christ consciousness a good read…
    Thank you for writing your book.

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