I was at the gardens the other day with someone who wanted to cut back all the spent coneflowers. Some stems were a bit ratty and spent, but most were still nice looking with tight clusters of seeds. Others didn’t have seeds but were still attractive to this gardener. But he wanted more order: no plants touching, nothing on the walk or hanging over the walk and no spent flowers.

So is he correct? Of course! …NOT!

Hold Back on the Deadheading
Many plants have a second life of sorts with their spent flowers. What remains when a coneflower is done blooming is first, food for the birds and second winter interest. Gardens with winter interest rely heavily on spent flowers and stems, grasses (even if they start to fall a bit) as well as evergreen plants and ornamental elements.

The more natural garden look is tempting more gardeners to keep their perennials as-is until early spring. There is solid design reasoning behind not deadheading a garden as well as the added benefit of feeding the birds.

But what about this garden visitor?
Not everyone finds intermingled gardens attractive, especially one that has not been carefully groomed. Most likely this type of garden is more attractive to them when viewed from a distance, so they see the garden’s textures, shapes and movement, not spent flowers.

If this sounds like you, we can design a more manicured garden around your home’s entrance and outdoor living areas and incorporate a more naturalistic garden a bit removed from the house. This way, you can have both- your desire for order in the garden and a gorgeous winter garden that is a magnet for the birds 

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