Putting Your Garden to Bed

The first light frosts of autumn are clear indications that it is time to clean up the garden beds.

Although turning the calendar to October is the hint that it is time to finish planning where to plant more crocus, hyacinth, tulips, and daffodils, it is also time to plan chores.

But wait…are birds still nibbling on seeds heads? Are there any seeds left?

I just finished cutting some stalks filled with aster seeds heads and walked along the roadside tapping them together as seeds flew into the border of thyme, cleome, and an assortment of wildflowers.

Soon the battery-operated hedge clipper will come out to take down the rest and be added to the slow compost pile. But ornamental grasses will stay! They provide places for birds to hide in and material for them to “feather their nests” and will add insulation for their winter homes.

Purple Fountain Grass, Pennisetum setaceum Rubrum, is an annual in Zone 5/6 but a specular addition in clients’ Doug & Shawn’s garden.

In the spring, when I see some green emerging from the base, will prune them about 8 inches high in a dome-like shape and cut down the tops for compost.

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