Sunday, 2 November 2008

Cutting back perennials

The walled garden was closed for this season last Friday and will re-open next March which means a bit of time off for us; there will be moments of quiet and contemplation rather like a seaside resort that has been shut up for winter. The weather has been lucky for the last few weeks with mostly dry days and this has really helped in getting the garden 'put to bed'. Perennials in the borders have been cut down, seeds have been saved in paper bags, roses pruned back and all the comfrey harvested for the third time this year for the compost heap. Despite the usual guidance in books to leave four inches on perennial stems to protect the plants in the winter, I cut most plants hard back to the ground so it is easier to rake up leaves; this has never resulted in anything being lost as all the plants I treat this way are completely hardy. What is left untouched is more borderline - the fabulous beds of Verbena bonariensis (see last posting) as well as anything with a particularly lovely winter outline such as sea holly. Teasels are left standing for the goldfinches to feast on.

We had several frosts last week, the hardest being on Wed/Thurs night and it resulted in a magical transformation for a few short hours. These photos show the effects. Especially beautiful was the Heuchera 'Amber Wave' which has been much admired all season, growing in a large terracotta pot by the blue entrance gate. I also really liked the contrast between the cold, northern ice crystals and the hot Indian colours of the pot marigolds - Calendula 'Orange King' which was Gertrude Jekylls's favourite (see posting for 24th August showing how we grew the calendula as a companion plant to the runner beans). I will of course carry on blogging through the cold months as last year so you can see what the garden looks like even when it is closed to visitors. And you can see my photographs of wildlife and landscape on the BBC Autumnwatch Flickr group too.

1 comment:

Edith said...

This is a gorgeous picture of frosted petals! Transformed into something exotic and oriental looking like candied petals for cake decoration