For most gardeners, the crowning moment comes in mid May or early June, when all of their efforts, creative design, hard labor, experiments and patience, not to mention dollars spent, are rewarded with the full display of blooming plants, the explosion of rich color.

But for me it’s in winter, at the moment of first snow. This is the moment I have labored for, designed the walkways and stairs, lugged and laid the stones, planted the evergreens, trained the trees, built the bamboo fences and gates – the contemplative moment of the first snow collecting on the bare limbs of the Japanese maples, distinguishing them, like line drawings, from the mulch beneath – collecting along each fan of needles in the weeping blue spruce that has taken years to grow over the boulder set to partner it – collecting in the gravel around the flagstones of the paths, showing the patterns of laid stone outlined in white.

There’s a flurry of bird activity at the feeders, the colors of the blue jay and cardinal jumping out of the overall monochrome – the titmice, chickadees, sparrows and juncos blending in.

And the bold yet quiet drama of a garden coming alive in a snowfall presents the graphic linear quality you see no other time but thought about, conceptually, in advance. All I’ve thought and done as a gardener, I realize then, I’ve done for this moment.

And – to take coffee out in the morning when the first snowflakes are falling and stand there in the creation that is our garden and watch the silent, profoundly beautiful show develop around me – this is why I will continue to do it.

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