Winter Interest

After hearing apocalyptic predictions about bad winter weather, we are experiencing a very mild winter here in the Chicago area. Today was in the 40s and partly cloudy. There’s no snow on the ground. But even in a mild winter, we have to live mostly without the things that we enjoy most in the garden: foliage, flowers, etc.

I’m usually pretty skeptical about “winter interest”. It seems to be a way of politely pretending that we’re happy with fish sticks when we really wanted trout almondine. Even so, there are plants that are attractive in winter in a puritan, minimalist sort of way.  This is especially true of grasses.

I cut down most of the flowers in the front yard in late fall, but leave everything behind the house standing until spring. The front yard clean-up is partly to avoid irritating neighbors who prefer a more well-kept look. My younger son David, who frequently protests the presence in our yard of what he calls “giant brown stalky things,” shares their preference.

Below are some pictures taken today, plus one from late fall.

Rudbeckia seedheads.
Here’s some goldenrod growing in a wild patch I have under a Silver Maple tree.
And here’s a clump of Silky Wild Rye in a raised bed.
Here’s some Sweet Joe Pye Weed in late Fall.
Finally, here’s some Anise Hyssop by the backyard arbor.
There’s also some nice clumps of switchgrass I didn’t get pictures of. Maybe another post.

2 Comments on “Winter Interest”

  1. I’m definitely of the “leave it be” mindset. Along with feeding and sheltering wildlife, it equals less work to do. Plus, I grew up in a forest, so I’m not completely comfortable when everything is groomed to perfection.

  2. I would also incline to leave it be, and I do in the backyard. But in the front, I try to be sensitive to the neighbors’ reactions. Also, Spring is a very busy time for me with a lot of business travel. If I left everything until Spring, I’d be overwhlemed. Even so, nobody would accuse me of having a garden that’s groomed to perfection.

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