At this point in the year, I have most of the front garden stripped down – the dahlia tubers are tucked in, and the foliage that does not age well, chopped and composted. It will be another couple of months before I see anything approaching an early spring display. But I do feel as though I still have a garden out front – I just have to look a bit harder for the beauty.
Apart from the occasional evergreen, most of my front garden is planted with deciduous perennials. Many of these die down slowly and look good while doing so. I leave seedheads on those plants as long as I can bear it, as the birds seem very interested – even though I have a feeder in the back, there are still lots of visitors among the stark stems in the front. There are mornings, with the frost still on the plants left standing, that offer quiet but magnificent images – I put on my heavy sweater and I go and have a closer look.
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ is a grass that looks its best in the fall. It has developed late because of the cool spring, and is finally blooming, tardy but proud. Sanguisorba tenuifolia ‘Finale’ is a late bloomer and holds its seeds well through to the yearend. Echinacea, phlomis and angelica all carry beauty to their dying days. My rose bushes have been bravely putting forth the odd bloom, looking all the more lovely by looking out of place.
The thing about perennial flower gardens is that they have an obvious growth cycle – they come alive in the spring, look their best for a while, then begin the slow die down for their quiet period in the winter. The approach of this quieter season is a bit harder to enjoy. I am getting older, and I see myself in my garden, in my late fall garden. As I peer down to discover the small offerings of beauty there, so do I realize that I have to work a bit harder to spot the joys of later life. But they are there, and I must not miss them, as they are being offered.
Last modified: December 16, 2012