Dying Well-Aging Attractively

September 23, 2009 030 (2)
Maybe it’s the time of year, or maybe it’s the time of man….no wait a minute, those are song lyrics*. Come on, shake out of it. Let’s start again, … It is the time of year when the plants growing at the Fairegarden are contemplated and evaluted as to their performance over twelve months of growing. We first wrote about it last year with a post that can be seen by clicking here, Dying Well. One reader thought our water source had dried up by that title so the phrasing has been edited for further explanation this year. There are those plants that more than deserve the space they take up in the beds lining the meandering paths, like the daylilies, Hemerocallis, skeletal seedhead above.

November 1, 2009 new 015 (2)
There are those plants that have four season interest, most notably the Euphorbia dulcis ‘Chameleon’. So highly regarded is this plant, it got its very own post. Click here if you are interested. Also shown are the blue volunteer dianthus, golden creeping Jenny, Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’ and the dark rosettes of Ajuga reptans. This happy mix and match makes up the plantings in the stair risers that lead to the knot garden. They have overtaken the original planting of creeping thymes long ago. Nature is much better at plantings than this mere mortal.

November 1, 2009 001 (2)
Since jumping onto the Piet Oudolf and friends bandwagon method of plant selection, that is, using low maintenance perennials that need only a yearly cut down, if any, need no staking and remain attractive after the chlorophyll has left the building, there has been critical study of the way plants die back in the cold seasons. The native ironweed, Vernonia altissima has what it takes to make the cut. It is backed by the going dormant Japanese blood grass, Imperata cylindrica which is shown in nearly every single post written here. The seed heads of the ironweed look like bristly fan artist paint brushes, ready to stipple in the foliage on a Bob Ross instant masterpiece.

November 1, 2009 new 031 (2)
It is surprising how many plants have structural beauty in addition to the foliage color change in fall. In the black garden image above, the stand out color of the switch grass Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’ is joined by the strapping foliage of Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ in the angled light. The red flowers of Salvia elegans, pineapple sage add the right shot of pizzazz to the scene. All in all a fine example of fading faire, (next years post title).

November 1, 2009 new 014 (2)
Hostas were one of the first perennials we ever noticed having fall color. There was a bed dominated by hostas outside the greenhouse window of our first Tennessee home. As the woodland back yard of that house shed its finery to the ground below, the hostas remained a bright colorspot in the view outside. It was an epiphany. For some misguided reason we thought only trees and some shrubs gave leaf peeping tourists their moneys worth. Modern day life being too busy to clear cut the garden denizens after the first frost, and not having paid live in gardening staff as in days of old, for the wealthy landowners that is, the to do chores of fall are now left undone. The garden is a much prettier place for it too. All perennials are now regarded as to how they dwindle. Some years are better than others, so this pleasant task is one to last a lifetime.

October 28, 2009 032 (2)
Some of our most favorite plants turned out to have fabulous fall into winter interest. Like the Astilbes and Japanese painted ferns, Athyrium niponicum var. pictum growing along the wall under the garage deck. In years past, the spent flower stalks were routinely removed from the foliage, and often by this time the foliage was cut all the way to the ground. What a mistake, for see how the leaves and spent stalks add so much more interest than bare earth.

November 1, 2009 new 016 (2)
The perennial pepper, first written about here, a passalong from neighbors Mae and Mickey has fruit that is quite late turning from green to orange. These orange delicasies, somebody eats them, rabbits perhaps?, will enliven the dull greys and browns throughout the winter season. A colder than usual winter did not kill them last year, although they were slower to leaf out from total dormancy in the spring. Several sprung up in the gravel paths and have been transplanted to the beds for their own safety. No name has ever been found for them. Mae just called it the perennial pepper, and so do I. Golden creeping Jenny in the background. Added: There has been a positive ID on this perennial pepper, actually a Jerusalem Cherry, Solanum capsicastrum, by the very helpful Joseph of Greensparrow Gardens. Many thanks, Joseph. We will go back and add the name to the old post when time allows.

November 1, 2009 new 011 (2)
Shrubs with something going on continually, like these Fothergilla ssp. are welcome. Multi hued fall foliage, interesting branch structure, honey scented white bottle brush flowers in spring and mid sized green leathery foliage add up to the perfect garden accoutrement. The suckers produced have been spread about hither and yon, yet another selling point, free plants.

November 1, 2009 new 033 (2)
Seedheads are left to ripen as the stems provide vertical interest. These Lilium ‘Black Beauty’ stalks are golden in the streaming light. We leave the monumental pods on after blooming, contrary to standard garden operating procedures manuals claim that the flowering will be lessened the next year. If you count the number of pods, you can see that leaving them to mature for seeds to sow did not hinder bloom numbers from the year before. The exquisite Japanese maple seedling broadcasting ruby rays behind the lilies is an added bonus. Even the price tag left on the green stake brings joy to this scene. I really should peel off that label though.

October 28, 2009 014 (2)
Fall is a good time to go plant shopping. The art of dying well can be seen firsthand, as in this newly purchased Spiraea thunbergia ‘Ogon’. This was picked up at the University of Tennessee plant sale last week.

November 1, 2009 new 038 (2)
Following the Semi school of gardening, named for offspring Semi’s methodology of doing nothing besides planting, can lead to discoveries pleasant. The Joe Pye weed in the foreground of the above shot, Eutrochium??? when did that name get changed from Eupatorium? she asked pointedly, E. purpureum sports yellowing leaves and bristle like flower remains. Also yellowing on the right is a native Thalictrum ssp. and amber royal fern, Osmunda regalis to the left. Decandent decay deemed too delightful to dismiss.

October 28, 2009 021 (2)
Not spending time cleaning up the fall garden by using plantings that require nothing more than a shearing before the new growth of spring, frees up the precious minutes of each day better spent on more worthwhile pursuits. The planter on the front porch, better called a stoop really, has had these same plantings for more than five years, Japanese painted fern and variegared ivy. It gets a yearly trim and regular watering, sometimes some slow release fertilizer granules, sometimes not.

October 26, 2009 new 046 (2)
Having fun with concrete seems a better use of the gardening hours than playing clean up. Like constant dusting in the house, there are things that are much more enriching to the life experience. We are happy to introduce Yorick Bongo Congo, distant cousin to Mrs. BC.

November 2, 2009 004 (2)
Alas, poor Yorick! And no, he was not broken on purpose just so that line could be used. He is now only a fraction of his former self after being knocked off the wall by the leaf vacumning gardener. He might now need some expensive reconstructive oral surgery, and he has no insurance, poor guy. Or maybe a Yorick II would be easier. My heart sank when I saw his toothy remains on the gravel path below. Yet another reason to keep the garden maintenance chores to a minimum, better to practice hypertufa cosmetic dentistry.

Frances

*Of course these words are from the genius Joni Mitchell’s song Woodstock. While I love her version of the composition, I believe Crosby Stills Nash And Young gave it the rocking tempo that better summed up the Summer Of Love, 1969 experience on their 1970 album Deja Vu. No, I wasn’t there, but almost went, as if that counts for anything. Click here to listen to the rousing anthem of an attractively aging generation.

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41 Responses to Dying Well-Aging Attractively

  1. Sylvia (England) says:

    Frances, I really try to love the dying plants but… Last year was the first year I saw my plants with frost on (I’ve lived in this garden for 11 years) – which does help, usually things are a soggy mess or the wind blows them around the garden. Speaking (writing) of wind, I had some beautiful dahlias last week, as we haven’t had a frost but the wind and rain broke all the flowers!

    Enjoyed this post, thank you and best wishes Sylvia (England)

    Hi Sylvia, thanks. I too am new to the appreciation of all of the dying plants, last year was the first time I really paid attention to them. I have removed anything that looks terrible, is all crushed down or covering up the good stuff. There was very little to cut, but it made a huge difference to take away the distracting messy things. I have been selective in the editing of the plantings. We are always moving things around here. Too bad about the dahlias, we have one still blooming nicely, but time is running out for it. Best wishes to you, too. :-)
    Frances

  2. lotusleaf says:

    Hello Frances! Poor Yorick! He looked so handsome.The fothergillas are fabulous.

    Thanks Lotusleaf. I knew Yorick had a weak chin, I ran out of hypertufa mix! He may be fixable, or he might have to be a reminder for us to be more careful. The fothergillas are just ablaze at the moment. :-)
    Frances

  3. Darla says:

    It takes an experienced gardener’s eye to truly enjoy the aging of the gardens and to display them in such a way that beginning gardener’s ‘get it.’ Beautifully done Frances.

    Thanks so much Darla, you are always full of kind words and I do so appreciate that. It was the Piet Oudolf-Noel Kingsbury book, Designing With Plants that opened my eyes to the leaving of dying plants in the garden intentionally. I highly recommend this book to all gardeners, it will change the way you look at things. There are ideas that can be applied to every garden situation, no matter your zone or location. I plan to write a design post soon about what I have learned and how those ideas have been used at the Fairegarden in the last couple of years. :-)
    Frances

  4. You’ve beaten me to it. I had planned to do a post on dying plants but, when I went out with my camera, I found so many flowers still flowering in the hedgerows I got diverted into taking photos of them instead – so my dying post will have to wait. But, as you say, there can be a lot of structural as well as colourful interest at this time of year and, as with human antatomy, it’s easier to understand the plant when you are familiar with its skeleton.

    Lucy

    Hi Lucy, sorry, I didn’t know we were having a race. :-) HA There is so much beauty in the countryside here too as the grasses and wildflowers are going by, I am a traffic menace driving so slowly to take it all in. Love your last line, well done! :-)
    Frances

  5. Great topic for fall and the upcoming winter. You have a lovely perspective on the graceful aging of plants.

    About the only plants that get cut back in my garden are the tropicals (ginger, colocasia, canna) and Japanese irises. I’ve left the irises in years past and right now, some are trimmed and some are not. So many of my plants are not supposed to be cut back in the fall – agastache, salvia, coreopsis, caryopteris – all need to remain standing. Like you, I leave my grasses into February. I love to see frost and snow on those. As for the seed pods on echinacea, helianthus and rudbeckia – I tend to leave those for the birds and nature’s seeding, though I do often take some pods to distribute seeds where I want them to grow.

    Hi Cameron, thanks so much. It is an adjustment from the normal garden philosophy of cutting everything down and putting the garden to bed. I am all for less work, rather than more, and the garden is so much more fascinating during winter because of it. Not to mention the homes for the wildlife it offers.
    Frances

  6. Gail says:

    Frances, I love both Piet and Noel’s books and philosophy, but I think it will be Frances of Fairegarden who opens eyes to how beautiful our gardens do look as the plants age and die. Your first photo demonstrates it so beautifully~~just look at the detail on the seedpod and the color is a gentle beige! Poor Yorick…Now off to listen to the music of my youth! gail

    Hi Gail, thanks. You are the first to mention the music, those words just typed themselves as this post was begun for some reason and I decided to leave them. You are kind to think I have that kind of influence, but it is the desired result to help others see how leaving the standing spent stalks can help keep the garden beautiful during the non growing months. In the colder climes, it offers something for the snow and ice to attach to. Yorick still looks artsy out there on the wall. You will soonsee him for yourself I hope. :-)
    Frances

  7. tina says:

    Poor Yorick. He fits right in with this post. Fall is such a melancholy time of the year but most beautiful.

    Hi Tina, yes poor Yorick. His was a very short life indeed, although he lives on without a chin. We don’t feel fall as melancholy at all, it is so vibrant and full of promise for next year. Lessons learned that can be mulled over during the winter. We continue to garden whenever possible during the cold months, the ground is soft and moist and it is a good time to divide and move things as long as we can get a shovel into the earth. The birds offer amusement and frost coats everything with fairy dust. A happy time. :-)
    Frances

  8. Racquel says:

    Poor Yorick, hopefully you can repair his damaged dental work. I’ve decided to not be so gung ho about fall cleanup this year and the garden is still interesting. It’s amazing how many things die back gracefully. :)

    Hi Racquel, poor Yorick indeed. I love not cleaning up, although it sometimes seems like I should be doing it, just from habit. I need to find other ways to occupy my time, and don’t suggest housework, please. I am not that bored! :-)
    Frances

  9. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Your garden still has lots of color and texture. We should all die so gracefully. I really like the idea of having a fan brush in the garden. However I have never used my fan brush. It sits in the brush holder glowing with possibility. Just like the fall garden in sunlight.

    Oh Lisa, glowing with possibility is so poetic! I don’t know anything about painting, but love the look of brushes. I have spent several years trying to figure out what needs to be added or moved to make the garden more interesting once the flowers are done. At first it was colorful evergreen plants and shrubs, but now I see that the tans and beiges of the dying plants has a beauty as well. We don’t get much snow, but when we do, and even the frost transforms the garden with those standing stalks. It just takes retraining our minds to see things differently. The addition of the plants that die well has been key too. :-)
    Frances

  10. Janet says:

    And I don’t know who I am,
    But life is for learning.

    We are stardust, we are golden,
    We are billion year old carbon,
    And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.
    Time indeed to get back to the garden……. :-D I really like the colors of the Fothergilla. Great posting of the transformation.

    All Right Janet! Joni is a brilliant poet and songwriter, isn’t she? Life is indeed for learning. Thanks for adding to the opening thoughts. :-)
    Frances

  11. Rose says:

    Poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio…er, Frances. Thanks to Janet for those lines from the song; Joni sure knew how to write ‘em! A beautiful collection of plants aging well, Frances. I have been subscribing to this method of gardening for several years now, having no paid live-in help either. Besides the winter interest there’s another advantage–it helps me remember in the spring what is planted where:)

    Thanks Rose. I am glad to hear of your gardening methods. It does help to know where things are, they can get lost so easily! Too bad about the lack of live in help, although the Financier is very good about the heavy lifting, when he is here. Joni’s words still amaze me with every hearing. :-)
    Frances

  12. ourfriendben says:

    I think this is my favorite of all your posts, Frances! But then, it combines three of my all-time faves, the beauty of the autumn garden, what you call the “Semi school of gardening” (we wouldn’t dream of cutting down anything until spring—the poor winter birds!!!), and that fabulous anthem, “Woodstock.” Much as I love Joni Mitchell, I agree with you that CSN&Y did it better (and more grammatically, too). I’ve actually insisted that “We are stardust, we are golden” be put on my tombstone when the time comes; I can’t imagine a more perfect commemoration. Alas, poor Yorick! We didn’t know him nearly as well as we’d have liked. Let’s hope his transformation simply ends up making him look more archaeological and authentic!

    Well thanks so much, OFB! That is high praise indeed. Of course the kudos belong to Joni. I should have mentioned the birds in the reasons to leave things standing. They need a place to perch! Yorick may have to remain toothlessly grinning, it is nearly too cold now for concrete work outside. I need to think of a better skull design, more depth. It will come to me eventually. :-)
    Frances

  13. Your dear Yorick might just settle for a nice plant to replace his teeth Frances. If only we had universal heath care! Perhaps some hens and chicks or something more haunting would suit his nature. Shrubs do add such lovely color … here too even after all the trees have forced their leaves to leave. I love your pepper and to think you can have it all winter. Not sure what is going on with the download… I email myself all the photos I use… they are pretty small. Curious. Thanks for the tips though! Will check it all out. Carol

    Hi Carol, thanks for those good ideas. Yorick might like living in a planter, we have a leaf man in one already. Hens and chicks would look wonderful, thanks for the idea. I hesitate to mention the loading time on anyone’s blog, it varies from time to time, but having many posts show on one page does tend to slow things down, no matter the size of the photos. My computer has way too many photos stored on it too and is sometimes very slow to load things. We are working on that. :-)
    Frances

    • I really appreciate any help with the techy stuff… I am so lame that way… blogger drives me crazy sometimes… that lack of control I have… I see you only have one or two maybe posts on a page and the rest are archived … that seems to be a popular way of blogging with others too… I see what you mean about having so many posts on one page. Thanks Frances. Carol

      Hi Carol, I don’t know much about techy stuff either. When I see at the bottom on the screen that there are more than a hundred photos to load, it makes me want to move on, so only having two posts helps with the loading time. Also shrinking the photos speeds it up both for viewing and writing the posts. And it will allow you to have more photos before running out of space and having to pay on blogger.
      Frances

  14. I can’t resist a mystery plant, so I’m on a mission to track down the identity of your “perennial pepper.” I’m pretty sure they aren’t actual peppers, almost certainly some species of Solanum. Here is my best guess so far: Solanum pseudocapsicum or Solanum capsicastrum — both called “Jerusalem cherry” (also both toxic, by the way) The references all say they’re only hardy to zone 8, but zone ratings are always way off. Do you think I’m close?

    Thanks so much Joseph. After carefully studying both plants, I do believe mine is Solanum capsicastrum. Mae, who gave me this plant used to own a flower shop in town and may have brought it home from there and stuck it in the ground. It dies back all the way in winter, but new leaves will emerge eventually in spring. The leaves are wider, the plant shorter and the fruit smaller than the S. pseudocapsicum. Congratulations! :-)
    Frances

  15. nancybond says:

    Oh my, beauties all, but that ironweed against the crimson of that blood grass is simply wonderful. I also love the leaves of the Fothergilla — they look like dried paint splotches on an artist’s palette. Gorgeous as always, Frances!

    Thanks Nancy, that was a favorite shot of mine as well. Fothergilla is having a fabulous year, but it usually does. :-)
    Frances

  16. rosey pollen says:

    So sad about your tufa skull. Hope he can be fixed allright.
    I am sometimes confused as to what to do about perennials dying in the fall, sometimes if I don’t cut them down, the elk and deer come yank them out for me because the plants are like a sore thumb, sticking out of the snow. So I cut them down, but is this okay?
    Rosey

    Hi Rosey, thanks. Having the deer and elk problem that you do, I don’t know what is best for you. I would not think having them pulled out of the ground is good though, so think you should do whatever will prevent that from happening. Maybe leaving some things that are protected by shrubs? You know best, there is no right or wrong. :-)
    Frances

    • rosey pollen says:

      Yesterday I sprayed some of the tastier plants with Deer Off. I assume Deer and Elk have same taste buds, we’ll see what happens.

      Good luck with it Rosey. I have never had to deal with the large munchers, just the little rabbits and such. Hope the spray is a real turn off! :-)
      Frances

  17. Ooh, fall has come to TN! I love the ironweed seed heads and fothergilla is my hands-down favorite shrub for fall color. I also love the cement skulls!!!

    It has, Monica, full blown fall, thanks for noticing! We both hail the fothergilla, it should be planted more often in more gardens if we can both grow it well. And what is it about cement skulls that makes them so appealing? Spellbinding! :-)
    Frances

  18. Dying well could also refer to an opera singer’s acting ability. But I agree with your emphasis on plants that look good til the bitter end. They help extend the beauty of autumn beyond the last of the flowers. I cut back all the New England Asters yesterday, because they don’t die well, but pretty much everything else does.
    As for poor Yorick, you could partly bury him in the ground or a pot, to become Homo gardenus.

    Thanks for this input, MMD! You have brought several grins and guffaw today. The NE asters are not the most graceful in death here either, although the ones that have been moved to the front look fine surrounded by the thuggish moudry pennisetum. Certain things do need cut, but not many. Yorick’s fate has yet to be determined. :-)
    Frances

  19. Kate says:

    Poor Yorick. He still looks pretty good with a cracked head, though. I was thrilled to see you mention Euphorbia Chameleon. I consider her an unsung hero in my garden and really should post about her. :)

    Thanks for the sympathy, Kate. He does still look good, a little more spooky sans mouth. Chameleon has seeded all over the garden and it gets left in nearly every location. What fabulous winter interest it has. Do post about her. :-)
    Frances

  20. I’m all about aging attractively, and it seems your garden is too. You have done a wonderful job putting your garden in four-season-interest mode my friend. Don’t you just love Euphorbias?~~Dee

    Thanks Dee, that phrase does apply to more than plants! The garden has been rearranged many times to find that happy mix of four season attractiveness. We are not quite there, but it looks better every year. The Euphorbias are used extensively, they plant themselves and we just leave them. :-)
    Frances

  21. ourfriendben says:

    Homo gardenus! Gotta love that! Though I myself would be tempted to go with Homo horticulus!

    Poor Yorick indeed. He just got made, named, broken and now latinized. We are still thinking about his fate. :-)
    Frances

  22. A lovely visit to your garden as usual. I so enjoy fall in the garden, and you’ve inspired me with some beautiful combinations (although sadly many of them won’t work in my climate. But I can extrapolate).

    I was glad to hear your report about black beauty lilies not having fewer blooms from your letting them go to seed. Besides the laziness factor, I just love the look of the pods, so I generally do. Now I don’t have to feel guilty about it.

    As for Yorick – perhaps he’s going through the shamanic experience of being shattered into fragments, so that he can be reassembled in a new way. We all do that occasionally.

    Thanks Pomona, so nice to see you. We can get inspiration from gardens in different climates than our own, extrapolate is an excellent way to describe it. I agree about the lily pods, Chinese trumpet Golden Splendor has the largest ones of all our lilies, Black Beauty second. But BB is by far the handsomest as it fades, very good color and erect. Last year I started several lilies from seed, but black beauty did not germinate. I think the pods were picked too soon. This year they have been allowed to stay on the stalk until the seed is literally spilling out. We just planted some up today. Yorick, his fragments are nearby, good thing if he is planning on reassembling. Evolution, as I tell my kids. always evolve. You crack me up!!! :-)
    Frances

  23. Joanne says:

    Everything is still looking attractive especially with the sun lighting up the autumnal colours.

    Hi Joanne, thanks. This is a lovely time of year here, the garden is still giving lots of joy as it winds down. :-)
    Frances

  24. Hello Frances,

    I think your post shows that there is beauty with age. I wish us humans would take the same outlook when it comes to us aging ;0)

    Hi Noelle, thanks. You are right, we are very youth oriented still in the US. May we all be comfortable in our own skins, saggy as they may be. :-)
    Frances

  25. Catherine says:

    I also used to think it was just the trees and shrubs that had the pretty fall foliage. It’s amazing how many perennials have such nice coloring now. A few years ago when the Littlest Gardener was a newborn, and there was no time or energy for fall cleanup, I left my perennials for the first time to age on their own and my appreciation for how they look as they aged changed from “dead plant” to dying well.

    Hi Catherine, thanks for visiting. I do believe it is a matter of us changing our perception of things, it makes for a more enjoyable life. :-)
    Frances

  26. Sweet Bay says:

    Beautiful post Frances. The Pineapple Sage looks wonderful with the blbood grass. As gorgeous as Lillium ‘Black Beauty’ is in summer, it’s beautiful in its autumn garb too.

    Actually I like Yorick’s new look. Kind of horrifying, very Halloweeny.

    Thanks so much Sweet Bay, your words are as sweet as your name. The sage is a great plant, I hope it returns next year, it will on occasion here, but it will be replaced if it doesn’t. It is a must have plant. Black Beauty has been one of the best lilies ever too. Yorick’s new look is growing on me as well. :-)
    Frances

  27. Teresa says:

    Interesting post. I think I am naturally drawn to easy plants. They definitely work for me. your fall garden is still very interesting indeed. Sorry about Yoricks misfortune.

    Thanks Teresa. There is still interest here, although the colors are fading fast and the leaves are doing the same, falling that is. Alas poor Yorick, I guess he was meant to have misfortune. :-)
    Frances

  28. joey says:

    So thoughtfully illustrated, dear Frances … fall wears a coat of beautiful colors.

    Thanks so much Joey for those kind words. Fall has been a joyful time this year. :-)
    Frances

  29. lynn says:

    I love the peppers and fothergillas! Great name for the new family member, too. Oral surgery…you crack me up,(teehee) Frances!

    Hi Lynn, thanks. We now know them as Jerusalem Cherrys, thanks to Joseph. I just saw some for sale today at the grocers! Glad you like our style of humor, a little off beat. :-)
    Frances

  30. TC says:

    All but hosta fade away gracefully. I think hosta are the ugliest of perennials when they’re done. But I grow them nonetheless. For where’s there’s beauty, there must be its opposite. Or the garden’s dichotomy would be worthless.

    Hi TC, thanks for this philosophical take on the dying plants. We have some hostas that are gorgeous, turning brilliant golden yellow, and others that just kind of mush up to brown masses. Same with the daylilies. Sum and Substance was looking particularly fetching when I was out with the camera looking for attractively agings. :-)
    Frances

  31. Hi Frances

    Some of the large perennial borders get an early spring cut with a lawn mower set high. It also creates a mulch.

    I like the Japanese painted fern and variegared ivy planter.

    Alas poor Yorick, next time check for a stone before you bite an olive.

    Hi Rob, Alas, you are too funny! We mow what we can too, which isn’t much since the slope is so steep. At the Lurie in Chicago they said they cut many things down mid season and leave the trimmings as mulch in place. Sounds good to me. The shady front door area has been a good spot for those easy plants. The planter itself is nice, so the plantings were meant to be subdued. Glad you like it. :-)
    Frances

  32. Barbarapc says:

    Frances, if I didn’t know you better, I would have guessed that you hauled those blue chairs into position for that great shot. Fabulous. When I do presentations, I often try to include what plants will look like in three seasons. Before I blogged, I wasn’t aware of just how beautiful some plants are in their decline.

    Thanks so much Barbara. Those blue chairs crop up in many of my garden shots. Their placement is to take advantage of the shade of the Boulevard chamaecyparis behind and offers a good view of things. I was just assembling some photos and noticed the blue chairs in many of them, a good idea for a post! I am new to the appreciation of the declining plants too. So many good ones. :-)
    Frances

  33. FlowerLady says:

    As I die daily in this life, may I do it well and attractively. The plant kingdom is a wonderful example of how to do just that. Wonderful pictures. Love your concrete projects. I can totally relate to ‘there are things that are much more enriching to the life experience, instead of constant dusting.’

    Have a wonderful evening ~ FlowerLady

    Hi Flower Lady, thanks for your perspective. We do die daily, a little bit, oh so slowly, there is no denying it. Dusting, what a thankless task, for me anyway, and for you too it sounds. :-)
    Frances

  34. Mary Delle says:

    I had written a reply earlier and my internet went out. Now back for another try. I have always liked seeing plants in the dying state, so enjoyed learning about Oudolf’s way of letting plants stay in the fall and not cutting them back. Has encouraged the naturalist in me. And now I find lots others who like this way of gardening. It makes fall even more beautiful and winter scenes sometimes stunning.

    Hi Mary, thanks for returning. I just hate those lost comments, it has been happening more and more lately. I blame the moon. I do appreciate your persistence. Letting the plants stand, if they can still stand, adds to much in the winter months. The birds and beasties appreciate it too. :-)
    Frances

  35. RobinL says:

    So many bloggers have spoken recently about Wabi Sabi, and I am quite fascinated by it. Autumn is the epitome of this phenomenon, don’t you think? Beauty in transience, I love it!

    Thanks Robin. I had to look up Wabi Sabi to make sure I understood it better. Autumn is a good example of it. I do love the concept and feel its truth.
    Frances

  36. eliz says:

    Interesting about the Black Beauty pods; I always cut all my spent lily blooms off, thinking that it is necessary to replenish the bulb …

    Hi Elizabeth, this is the second year that I have left the seed pods on Black Beauty and the Chinese trumpets. Actually I left all the lily seed pods on this year, but not all the lilies form them. The books say to cut them off, and that does seem logical, but the bloom numbers and size were wonderful after letting the seeds mature on the plant the fall before. I did get the trumpet seeds to germinate. I think Black Beauty was cut too soon. This year I left them on until they opened and split to let the seeds drop to the ground. We’ll see how that works out.
    Frances

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