Monday, 23 November 2015

Seedheads and Skeletons

I admit I haven't always been keen on keeping perennials intact "past their prime".  It was more of an acquired taste for me. One thing I love about gardening, as with any art form, is how your tastes and perceptions change and evolve. Over the last few years I've found myself gladly anticipating the unsung heroes of fall and winter. These beautiful brown and bronze seed heads and skeletons not only provide late season interest, but they also provide food and shelter for animals and eventual organic material for the garden. This final hurrah should not be overlooked or underestimated. 

Having said that, context will often be the ultimate factor. At Chanticleer we cut and mow down much of the fading vegetation, leaving some grasses (which are dealt with in late winter/early spring), and evergreen perennials. This is primarily because we have to get the garden ready for spring before the winter starts to set in and while we have the staff on hand. If we waited until spring, there would be too much to do to get ready for opening. Plus we don't know how cooperative the weather will be at that time. This year there was snow on the ground when we arrived back, which won't work for doing cutbacks! So you have to decide what works for your situation. 

Seed pods of Abelmoschus manihot 

Sunset by the ponds

Hystrix patula aka "Bottlebrush Grass"

Polystichum acrostichoides is left uncut (here under American Beech)

Sporobolus heterolepis is left to be burned in late winter