That’s the question – and one which many gardeners don’t necessarily consider before they start a pre-Winter garden tidy! But just taking a little time to think about the consequences of your actions (or non-actions) may just be the key to gorgeous Winter interest you never knew you had!
There are, of course, tidying jobs which absolutely should be carried out at this time of year and we’ll cover those too – so that you’ll always have an answer to questions which start with ‘should I just…’
Creating or maintaining interest throughout the seasons is what keeps our gardens looking fabulous – but this doesn’t always mean just adding new plants, you need to be sure that you’re also making the most of the plants you already have by leaving them alone – this includes:
Grasses – which can provide welcome height and interest throughout Autumn and Winter. Our favourites are miscanthus, which has handsome straw-coloured foliage and faded cream flower heads. Panicum, North American prairie grass, which has wonderfully light, airy flower heads with bead-like seeds which look like jewels when dusted with frost. And then of course there is Stipa Gigantea, with its golden wand-like stems and delicate, empty seed carriers to catch the wind and Winter sun.
Spent flower/seed heads – which are very architectural and look glorious crusted with frost, our favourites are sedum, echinacea, eryngium, angelica. And of course not only will you get to enjoy these wonderful plant skeletons, garden birds will enjoy the seed heads and wildlife generally will appreciate the shelter that these plants can provide.
- Fallen perennial leaves, especially if they have shown signs of disease or pests during the season. These should be collected and burned to prevent the pests and diseases over-Wintering in your garden and returning next year.
- Pruning of deciduous trees, shrubs and bushes – with the leaves off, you’ll be able to see the shape of the branches, and work with the natural shape of the plant to maintain its shape.
- Perennial weeds – most of these are vulnerable to weedkiller in early Autumn and applying a product containing glyphosate will ensure that the roots, as well as the top growth, are killed.
- Dead heading – continue this on dahlias, roses and penstemon to prolong their colourful display.