Fall Clean Up

Freshly tended fall border in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Freshly tended fall border (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

If you’re like me, the thought of dragging out the vacuum and dust rags is just that . . . a drag.  Perhaps when I was younger and home ownership was fresh and exciting, the task of cleaning, scrubbing and dusting somehow seemed rewarding; all the appliances sparkled and the carpets were no longer littered with balls of dog and cat hair.  Alas, those days are gone, and the thought of cleaning the house is nothing more than a mundane, thankless chore that I would far rather delegate to someone, anyone, willing to do it for me.  Strangely, when it comes to neatening up the garden beds, I feel quite the opposite.

Echinacea 'Raspberry Truffle' in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Echinacea ‘Raspberry Truffle’ rebloomed after pruning (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Fall is the perfect season to check-in on the pulse of your garden, and from October through November, I do just that by tackling my ornamental borders.  Some plants, such as earlier blooming phlox and monarda are looking pretty ratty, and are cut back to about six inches.  I will sift through the rudbeckia, randomly cutting back some of the stems that have fallen over, while leaving some of the upright seed heads for my feathered friends.  Some echinacea and eryngium are also flopping and browning, but a nice shearing reveals healthy looking basal foliage and a few seed heads that I randomly spread about to see what may pop up next year.  Some of the taller herbs such as lovage and fennel have also gone to seed and are starting to weep over, so I’ll cut them back and allow them to fluff up for winter.   A few perennials were cut back in August, resulting in another flush of blooms as a season finale.

Frothy white blossoms of Eupatorium 'Chocolate' in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Frothy white blossoms of Eupatorium ‘Chocolate’ (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Once you’ve sifted through the wreckage and pruned out the undesirables, a whole new garden is suddenly revealed.  Wow.  Low growing geraniums are still sporting violet blue blossoms, eupatorium rugosum ‘Chocolate’ is glowing with decadent white flower clusters, and shrubs such as fothergilla, clethra and itea are just starting their engines for a phenomenal display of blazing fall colors.  When the lanky stems of passed-by perennials are removed, all the other cast of garden characters are allowed to shine in the spot light.  And, shine they do!

Leaving some seedheads in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Leaving some seed-heads is fun (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Although many plants will benefit by pruning back their browning foliage and naked stems, some plants should be left to be savored through the dormant winter months.  Many grasses have just started to produce dazzling tassels atop their stems, and watching them stand through winter’s snow is always worth the extra work come spring.  Twig dogwoods, with stems glowing in hues of burnt orange, fiery red and golden amber, stand out beautifully against the crisp autumn sky.  Seed heads held on erect stems of echinacea and rudbeckia add interest and food for native fauna, and burgundy rose hips left to develop after the last rose petals have fallen, are another much appreciated winter snack.

Gorgeous geranium in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer https://agardenforall.com

Look what I found hiding under taller foliage! (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

So, my friends, don’t be sad that our growing season is winding down.  Savor the metamorphosis process, look for the beauty that lies hidden under a few browning leaves or in the transformation of foliage from summer’s green to autumn’s crimson.  Once the dying foliage and fallen stems have been trimmed away, who knows what treasures will be revealed to you?

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