It’s time to apple-pie up the garden afore it takes its continued winter nap. Whether perennials are cut aback now or larboard continuing until bounce is answered by a brace simple questions.
First, do the plants action aliment or apartment to wildlife? Next, do they accept accessory qualities that accord the garden winter interest? If your acknowledgment was acknowledging to either of these questions, plants can abide in the garden until bounce … best of time.
Perennials that were assaulted by insects or ache should be cut aback to abate the adventitious of ceremony aing year. Bee balm, garden phlox, German iris and peonies are examples of perennials with foliage that should be removed from the garden. Do not admixture asleep leaves; they may anchorage ache spores or overwintering insects.
Plants that reseed with carelessness should additionally be cut aback afore they besprinkle their seeds beyond the garden. There is affluence to do in the bounce afterwards abacus the abatement of multitudes of exceptionable seedlings to the garden wake-up checklist.
Perennials that are too weak-stemmed to angle up to a little snow are not my abstraction of winter interest. Cut them aback afore they about-face to concoction unless the perennials are breakable and use their addle leaves as a blanket.
After these perennials accept been cut back, accede the rest. There are abounding perennials that accommodate aliment for birds and added wildlife in the winter. Birds adulation the berry active of black-eyed Susan and coneflowers. A array of collywobbles and benign insects overwinter on built-in plants and juncos acquisition ambush in close garden cover.
Interesting berry active can additionally accomplish the garden attractive, abnormally aback they are dusted with snow. Astilbe, coneflowers, Joe-Pye weed, sedum and yarrow are a few examples. The fawn-colored foliage of alpine accessory grasses adds vertical anatomy to the winter landscape.
Perennials such as anise hyssop, asters, chrysanthemums, lavender and Russian academician account from the added aegis provided by abrogation their foliage standing. Wait to tidy the semi-evergreen leaves of apricot bells, dianthus, ferns, foamflowers and hellebores until spring, too.
Some gardeners adopt the attending of a bare slate. They arch to the garden, with pruners in hand, and don’t stop acid until the mural is clean. Sometimes, to clip or not to clip is added a catechism of time than aesthetics or artful sensibilities.
I garden on an acre (and added than bisected is in beds and borders) and don’t accept time to cut aback all the perennials in bounce or in fall. Instead, afterwards abrogation plants with wildlife-value and a few of my favorites for winter interest, I cut aback all the perennials in the advanced backyard in the fall, so it is accessible to appearance off spring-blooming bulbs.
Then I arch to the aback and cut aback alone those perennials that suffered from ache or insect accident and a brace self-seeding offenders. I leave the blow for charwoman up in the spring.
• Diana Stoll is a horticulturist, garden biographer and speaker. She blogs at gardenwithdiana.com.
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