Being Too Clean
Report From An Opinionated Gardener – April 2
It was, finally, a decent day to work outdoors. With the sun out and temps in the low 50’s, being in the garden was exhilarating as well as productive. I pruned and cleared the leaves from several beds.
As I raked and cut away dead perennial foliage I remembered a conversation I had yesterday with Finbarr. We were on a client’s property looking at a perennial bed that hadn’t been “cleaned up” in the fall. Pulling the dead and dried stems and leaves away we could see the plants underneath were healthy and growing. Finbarr remarked about how the plants seem to do better when they aren’t cleared to the ground in the fall. Last year’s foliage protects them through the winter and insulates them at this time of year, creating a mini greenhouse over the plants.
Yes, there is something satisfying about having it all cut down, raked and hauled away in the fall. But that isn’t how the natural world works. Mother Nature protects her plants with the spent stems and foliage from the previous year. The plants in my corner bed were looking great after being covered all winter with wilted perennials and oak leaves.
Sometimes we humans are too focused on having things “neat.”