Cutting Back Herbaceous Plants

Cutting-back in progress

With the snow gone and the air temperature positive - though with the soil still frozen - it is essential that we crack on and do as much as possible to prepare the garden at Colesbourne Park for the snowdrop season - not very far away now. One of the major jobs is to cut down the old growth in the herbaceous border, tidying it up and giving it a good mulch.
I am very well aware of the prevailing fashion for leaving herbaceous plants standing through the winter, both for the supposed beauty of the stems and seedheads, and for the refugia they provide for insects, etc. I have to say that the latter point does not trouble me unduly: for every ladybird there must be many more aphids. As for beauty, this is in the eye of the beholder, as usual. I am trying very hard to find positives, but I can't completely get over the fact that, to me, most dead herbaceous plants look horrible - a real witch's washing line - especially when lank and dank in the usual English winter (see right). True, they crisp up and look better in frost, and there are some that have real attraction and elegance. ost showed these up beautifully, but there aren't very many plants that really carry it off well for very long into the winter - they lose their charm very quickly when they cease to be more or less vertical.

Perennials in hoar frost in the cottage garden

It is obviously quite possible to plan a border full of plants that retain elegance in winter, but I think that if this is to be done it needs to be in a designated area, because, as I've found in the cottage garden, isolated clumps of standing stems just look daft, however nicely they blended in with less persistent companions when in growth.

In addition to disliking the general air of desuetude of dead perennials, I have two good reasons for clearing the borders now. anted only with late-flowering perennials. There is too much space in a border to waste on having only one display (however late into winter the remains of that are left), and there is no reason why it should not be of interest and beauty for most of the year. To be so, however, it is essential that old material is cleared away before the new growth starts to appear. With an early display of bulbs in the mix this means it must be done now to avoid their shoots being damaged. ut there is also the issue of practicality - it cutting-back isn't done now, it must be done later, and why do a winter job when spring is advancing? Or who has time to?

Helenium 'Sahin's Early Flowerer'

The second reason is not unrelated to the first, but is perhaps more philosophical. I think that winter should be a time for looking forward to the rebirth that is spring, not for contemplating the disarticulating skeletons of last summer's feast. Even today, early in the winter, the promise of new growth is very apparent, whether in the red buds of peonies, the rosettes of herbaceous perennials, or in the vigorously pushing noses of the bulbs. Gardening is all about the future, not the past.

Edens Garden Rosewood 100% Pure Therapeutic Grade Essential Oil- 10 ml
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Stephen Gould against the "adaptation"

2005-01-01 00:11:30 by _argument_

You wrote: "native plants generally have had time to become adapted to the environment, and other species have had time to adapt to them."
Is this the "best fit" argument? The late Stephen Gould argued that a native plant is not necessarily best adapted to the site, and vice versa.
Although the plant is a part of the ecosystem, it is not necessarily contributing to an optimal ecosystem.
(Additionally, "ecosystem" simply refers to the relationship between plants/animals/and physical environment, native and/or non-native.)
Even in an pristine native environment there is change

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DALY: Use care when planting around septic drainfields  —
Shallow rooted annual and perennial herbaceous plants can be planted closer to the drain fields since they do not have invasive roots. Turfgrass can be grown over the drain field and is beneficial since it helps hold the soil in place.

Monrovia Growers Pink Double Delight Echinacea, One Gallon Container by Monrovia Growers
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