Wednesday, 2 September 2009

(not)Tidying the Garden for Winter

Many people find their gardens can be a bit “flat” at this time of year after the fireworks of summer, though regular dead-heading will prolong the season for many flowers and there are some good-value plants which will continue well into autumn – Anemone hybrids (“Japanese Anemones”), Rudbeckia & Echinacea (“Cone Flowers”), Asters and, of course, Sedums (“Ice Plants”) which are only just coming into flower – as are the late-flowering ornamental grasses such as Miscanthus.
As we move into autumn, lots of people start to tidy everything up in the garden for winter, but I think there is good reason not to go too mad. Wildlife can find shelter in a little overgrown patch which is hidden away alongside a shed or tucked behind a hedge. I like to leave seed heads on plants too, instead of cutting them down too early. They attract birds, and look really lovely when they’re frosted – sedum, achillea and echinops are good examples, as well as most of the small ornamental grasses. I also love to see shrubs draped with spider’s webs, where moisture droplets have gathered. Leaves should be raked off lawns, where they would cause damage, but piles of leaves can be welcome shelters for hedgehogs and other small mammals and insects. So for me, late winter/early spring is the time to cut everything down. I like my winter garden to provide interest for me and its other inhabitants.

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