Friday, November 30, 2012

Beautiful Wreckage

"Imposing a little order goes a long way at this time of year, but I leave the vegetation in the beds because there is beauty in the wreckage." --Dan Pearson

I was reading one of my gardening books the other night, Home Ground by Dan Pearson, where he talks about his garden in winter. I loved the passage above, when he talks about 'the beauty in the wreckage' of his winter garden. I liked how he describes the change in his garden, as things turn from green to brown and how the forms and skeletons of plants leave the memory of the season past. I thought that was a nice way to think about it. It's nice, too, to leave places for the birds to hide and look for worms and seeds, and as I was out taking pictures this morning at 7:30 am, there were all kinds of birds in my front garden, proving that point!  One thing I hadn't thought about too much is that as the plants decay, they feed the soil. Worms feed on the plant litter and break it down into the soil, and the worms keep the soil aerated and hearty. So while I have always liked to clean up the garden before winter,  I think I will leave a few more things standing than I usually do. Of course not everything looks good, or has any winter interest, so there's still lots that needs to be cut down. I have already cut back all the peonies because of the risk of disease and I have cleaned up the soil around them. The coneflowers are all blackened too, so I will cut them back completely. But a lot of things will stay all winter, like the hellebores which stay green even in the snow, the lambs ears, the heuchera, geraniums. and the sedums, which still stand up tall.

Sedum Autumn Joy
Potted hosta
Perennial geranium
Lambs ears

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