TIME TO (NOT) PUT THE GARDEN TO BED.
This is a phrase I hear a lot at this time of the year and I find it slightly unnerving. In fact, if I’m honest it’s a phrase that goes completely against everything I believe in when designing a garden. Seasons should feature in gardens, they should be celebrated, yes, even winter. By putting their garden to bed, a lot of people mean tidying it all up, removing all fallen leaves and cutting everything down so that they can forget about it all until the spring. But even if it is true that everything slows down and that most plants and creatures go dormant, there is still life winter. There is still much to be admired and there are some plants that are in fact at their peak in winter: Sarcococca, Witch Hazel and Viburnum Bodnantense provide fragrance, Hellebores are definitely worth coming close too and many more. I love visiting gardens in winter when everything is quieter and not so in your face.
Some herbaceous stand proud throughout the winter and display elegant seedheads and silhouettes and look enchanting covered with frost (a lot of ornamental grasses, verbena bonariensis, hydrangeas, etc..) .
So don’t put your garden to bed. On the contrary, leave a pile of logs and fallen limbs in a corner, don’t completely eradicate the mess, leave a bit of it for hibernating mammals and insects. Leave some seedheads on, and don’t remove all the fallen leaves but push them away from the lawn into the beds to provide the more tender perennials with a natural mulch.