Open My Eyes or The Veil Has Been Lifted
The fall garden is being viewed anew. The mad dash to clean up has been tossed by the way in favor of the design principles of gardening gurus Piet Oudolf and offspring Semi. This school of thought will heretofore be referred to as Semi-Piet. (Not to be confused with the famous chia pet that will be showing up on television ads soon as the perfect Christmas gift.) To explain the idea behind Semi-Piet simply, plant your garden with perennials that have structural beauty not only during the growing season but that can be left standing over winter. The seed heads are beneficial to wildlife and offer a composition of varied textures for winter interest. To illustrate how that is a change from the norm for us, please study the above photo. The yellowing blades of the daylily behind the crisped umber of the Japanese painted ferns is striking. This is a never before seen combination because we always have cut both of these plants to the ground and mulched the area after the first frost. Not this time.The long shot shows the vignette in context within the garage deck bed. The evergreens are heaths, Erica darlyensis mixed in with Spirea ‘Magic Carpet’ that is just turning to the reds and golds of a fine weaving. There is weaving going on here. Lavender with another Magic Carpet spirea is attractive the whole year around. This has always been a focal point located at the intersection of the base of the ramp that leads to the garage deck and at the top of the steps that lead from the garage side up into the garden.Never before allowed to remain standing are the spent stalks of liliums. These are L. ‘Black Beauty’. The red leaves of Physocarpus ‘Summer Wine’ and ground cover Ajuga reptans join the lilies in the black garden. The tall grasses are Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’. The many grasses grown here are normally left standing until March.Hydrangea paniculata grandiflora, Pee Gee, flower head pom poms will be left until spring. A stem of rose ‘Moonlight’ blooms bravely.Echinacea seedheads have evaded the goldfinches so far, but will be picked clean before the weather warms again. Japanese anemone ‘Prinz Heinrich’ seed heads have not been allowed to pouf out ever before. We did not know they became magical snowflakes! The stems were always cut to the ground. Look at what we have been missing!
There will be more examples of the sights that had been missed through fall garden clean up in the past. Less work and more enjoyment make the Semi-Piet version of gardening our new aesthetic.