Autumnal Agastche glowing in the late sun

Autumnal Agastche glowing in the late sun

At the beginning of Autumn it is easy to tell myself that the grasses and herbaceous perennials with good seed heads and strongish stems will look good throughout the winter months.

Bringing a hint of glamour with each over night frosty dip and a certain charming collapsed-ness as you look out of the kitchen window on a snowy morning. Then comes the turning point when collapsed-ness turns into total devastation and mush, blackened by the cold and liquified by the rain the foliage is no longer glamorous but distinctly untidy.

Snow covered Sedum heads.

Snow covered Sedum heads.

By nature not a tidy person (no, really, I am not!) this shouldn’t really bother me and as long as I don’t wander into my garden it doesn’t, too much. But February moves on and this week it’s brought some sun and MILD weather and out have come the daffs, more snowdrops and lots more forgotten favourites, poking out of the ground into the watery sunshine. It’s becomes just too tempting NOT to go out and poke around to see what has survived and emerged.

Finding myself standing in the tiny town garden behind my house yesterday was all it took to launch me into choppy action. Wintery collapse had done it’s best and with the spate of mild weather many perennial plants are underway for 2013. Down came the Sedum stalks with little mounds of new growth bursting through at their base, swiftly followed by the brittle stems of the once floaty Miscanthus‘ and Agastache.

The Balotta growth spurt just after Christmas had come a cropper in the snow, turning yellowish grey and withering, pruned out to reveal soft new greenery.

Balotta coping well with the freezing weather.

Balotta coping well with the freezing weather.

Chopped to the base the blacked stems and fluffy seed heads of the Asters revealing timny new plants that will bring this years clouds of lilac. All into the compost bin alongside the woody tips of a soon to be thickened out Hydrangea and a rogue branch of the Wigela Florida. Lastly the Hypericum stems were coppiced to the stump, not strictly necessary but it’s such a beast and if not kept under rigid control it rather takes over one corner of the patch.

There is a certain satisfaction piling clippings and dead matter on the strip of lawn as my secateurs and I whirl through the borders, them cutting and revealing, me trying not to stand on emerging shoots. Chopping the debris into pieces and dropping them in the recently emptied composter provides a staisfying end to the spring chop, clutter clearing the wintery decorative structures and making way for spring.

Frosted Epimedium tinged with red at the edges

Frosted Epimedium tinged with red at the edges

Next week it will be the turn of Cornus, Salix and Epimedium!

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