The naturalistic style of planting popularised over the past twenty years by Dutch garden designers, including myself, places great importance upon perennials that look good throughout the winter by retaining their form either as dead skeletons or by way of their distinctive seedheads.
At this time chaos threatens and the urge to tidy away the dead plants becomes ever pressing. This year in the Netherlands winter ended with a long cold and wet period which coincided with the time, in February, I would normally be out in the garden hacking and chopping everything down.
This week the weather changed and finally the big tidy up could begin. Everything is either broken or cut into short pieces which are dropped on the ground amongst the crowns of the perennials. This technique of mulching feeds the soil, represses weeds and saves time carrying the debris to a compost heap. Four afternoons work is all it takes to tidy a 500 m? garden; a pleasing task with an instantaneous result – so long as you don’t mind crawling about on your knees.
Daffodils will now start to come into flower, followed shortly by tulips – what a relief the show can finally begin.