Perennials should be left alone for winter season

Rob Zimmer

There is something magical about the first snowfall of the season. Frosting our grasses and trees with a fresh blanket of gleaming white, the first snowfall seems almost like a dream. Magical landscapes are accented and highlighted by frosty feathers of snow, forming a surreal gardenscape, right at home.

The first snowfall of the year is ethereal. Transformational. We aren’t quite ready for it, yet we always know it’s coming. In an instant, overnight, the drab browns and golds of our landscape that have stood unchanged for weeks are suddenly captivating and beautiful beneath a thin blanket of pristine white.

We never know how long the first snowfall of the year may last. It may only be around for a few hours, or it may last weeks if colder temperatures settle in.

There are many great reasons why I recommend people leave their garden perennials standing throughout the fall and winter season. The beauty that is created by fresh fallen snow on ornamental grasses, as well as the flower heads and seed heads of annuals and perennials and shrubs, speaks for itself.

Not only is the beauty captivating, but the importance to overwintering pollinators and insects is invaluable. Many of these creatures wouldn’t stand a chance without our help by simply letting our gardens remain standing all winter instead of chopping them up and hauling them away.

There are many great landscape and garden plants that lend themselves perfectly to the first snowfall of the season. Combining texture and color and form, you can create a garden that looks beautiful and glorious in all of the seasons of the year, even in the dead of winter.

Ornamental grasses are one of my favorites for winter beauty. Their graceful flow and feathery seed heads dance with winter snow and look so elegant and graceful tufted in winter white.

Perennials with amazing textures such as sedums, purple coneflowers, black eyed Susans, turtleheads, Rattlesnake Master, goldenrod, asters, Joe pye weed, ironweed, Culver’s root and others are dressed like dancing stars throughout the winter season.

Many of our trees and shrubs look incredibly graceful once their leaves have fallen and their bare forms stand with elegance against the snowfall. White birch and river birch are elegant and graceful as snow tufts their papery bark. Our old, ancient oak hold their rustling leaves throughout the winter season, a reminder of autumn as the winter wind gently rattles their shiny treasure.

Of course, the conifers first look so perfectly placed among the winter garden and scenery, tufted in a soft layer of winter white. Blue spruce, golden conifers, sky blue juniper, conifers in all of the shades of green, all adorned for the season perfectly with their wintry December dress.

Take a moment to stroll through your backyard garden and take a closer look at the textures and forms of even the smallest plants adorned with a blanket of soft, freshly fallen snow. Appreciate each new snowfall many times throughout the season and be blessed by the beauty and bounty.

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