And of course, the lovely fall weather we’ve been having makes it all that much more difficult. Because when it turns, it’s going to turn quickly. And even a hardy Wisconsin gardener like myself doesn’t really relish being in the garden with winter gloves on.
|The Calamintha ‘Montrose White’ in the foreground of this photo has finished flowering, but it still looks good otherwise. It will be difficult to cut it back at this point, but there’s so much to be done in the garden.|
I was formulating a plan of attack for the fall garden chores the other night at 4 a.m. as I stood in the back yard begging the newest member of the family to pleeeeaaaase go to the bathroom. We got a 3-month-old Newfoundland puppy last weekend so we are in the throes of potty training, which is far more tedious than I had remembered. Anyway, I was noticing that other than a bit of flopping here and there, most of the perennials are looking fine and it seems a little sad to be planning to go in there and hack things back.
|I know this picture is blurry but little Dorothy is in the perpetual motion stage of life so it could be awhile before she sits still enough for a good picture.|
There are a lot of different ideas about cutting back perennials in fall, and from what I’ve read I believe it probably is better for the health of the plants to let them stand for winter. But sometimes the health of the gardener is more important that the health of the garden (which probably will be OK no matter what), and in my case I know that spring is so busy that anything I can do in fall to decrease the spring workload is well worth doing.
So, even though things are still green, I think this weekend I’ll start dismantling beds one by one. I’ll cut back things like Nepeta, but I will leave Sedums and Echinacea standing for winter interest. Dahlias, of course, have several more weeks in the garden. Not only are they still flowering, they need to be killed off by a good frost before you can dig them for storage.
As I go through, bed by bed, I’ll also pull as many weeds as I, again so it’s one less thing to do in spring. In a few weeks, when we’re drowning in fallen leaves, I’ll run them through the chipper-shredder and create a lovely mulch for my beds. The areas that I mulched with chopped leaves last fall had noticeably fewer weeds in spring, so that’s another investment in my spring time.
Still, cutting back plants that still look OK is hard to do. But the knowledge that it will be far more tolerable a job at 60 degrees than at 35 degrees is enough for me to get over it.