Perfection is highly overrated, especially in gardening. While an immaculately manicured landscape can be impressive, there is something to be said for the beauty of plants gone by like the firecracker-shaped stalks of a globe allium, the seed heads of a coneflower, money plant seed pods or nigella love-in-a-mist seed heads.
Allowing for imperfection in the garden allows gardeners to let go of the preconceived notions that all things must be in the exact spot, pruned as soon as they go past and beneficial weeds cannot coexist with other cultured plants. Some might call it laziness, but laziness can be a virtue in this case.
Why? Not only can the fall forms of plants-gone-by add a kind of architectural interest in your garden, but they may provide food or shelter for some native birds or bees. The plant stems in your fall garden may have hibernating bees inside. Those seed heads might be an important food source for the native birds.
Not only is delaying deadheading (removing spent flower heads) until spring better for wildlife, it can also be beneficial to the plants. Deadheading is usually done to encourage new blooms. For example, late in the season plants like roses need to get ready for winter. They want to slow down growth, but flower pruning is telling the plant too produce another flower. Rose flowers want to produce ‘hips’ and it is not until the rose sets hips that it begins to take a break in flowering. Rose hips are also an important food sourcs for birds in the winter.
According to the 2018 Garden Trends Report, ‘Wabi-Sabi is an ancient Japanese practice that appreciates the imperfections in life and ability to age gracefully. Wabi-Sabi gardens imitate nature in a way that allows you to relax and appreciate their humble and imperfect forms.’
Find the beauty in imperfect and save your fall clean-up until spring!