The Beauty of Fall in a Naturalistic Garden
For a while now we've been practicing maintenance that's in keeping with a naturalistic garden style. We do a lot less work and we make sure that what we do is impactful. Turns out, it's been a much more rewarding experience than we could ever have imagined.
These days, we do things like leaving seed heads on our perennials and letting stalks and leaves decay in place. We work to protect soils by leaving and sometimes adding organic material and do our best not to disturb soils that are already full of healthy micro organisms. It's also a great time to add, divide and move plant material to create communities that will work together for the overall health of our garden. We consider the wildlife that call our green spaces home, providing shelter and food sources all year long through our plant choices, hardscape options and maintenance techniques. In short, we do our best to work with nature rather than against it, because when you do some truly amazing things happen.
Time to enjoy - Fall is a magical season in the garden and if we choose not to spend all of our time running around 'cleaning' everything up, making things 'neat and tidy' we actually have time to enjoy life outside. Once we let go of antiquated ideas, of how our gardens 'should' look and let nature do her thing, it opened up a whole new world of experiences to enjoy. Isn't that what we're all really looking for? Time outside, away from our busy lives, enjoying nature?
Colour - Fall is a time of brilliant colour, magenta leaves on coral bark maples and golden Rudbeckia flowers. In fact the more you look around the more colour you'll see. Beyond the familiar leaf displays of mature deciduous trees, many perennial plants also put on a magnificent flourish of colour. And if you leave them to their own devices (for the most part) you will get to enjoy it in all it's glory.
Decay - have you ever heard the phrase, there's beauty in imperfection? We used to spend so much energy trying to remove anything that was past it's prime because it wasn't perfect, but now we spend more time appreciating all aspects of a plants lifecycle. There is a great deal of beauty in hollow dried stems and architectural seed heads. It's important to open your mind to all kinds of beauty and redefine what we think of as genuine fall or winter interest. It's not just something that remains evergreen. Curled leaves that cup water droplets, wiry grasses bending in the wind and seed heads covered in frost are just as beautiful and often much more interesting in the grand scheme of things.
Visual beauty - There are tons of amazing things that happen visually in the garden that are unique to fall. Think intricate spider webs bridging dried flower stalks, tiny seed heads dancing on willowy stems and bright crunchy leaves highlighting the final flowers on on a silvery Yarrow. There's something very particular about the light too, it's warm and filtered and if you time it just right the golden hour seems to last all day. Another thing that we love are all of the different textures created by the perennials collapsing in on each other; stalks and stems and long thin leaves all piling up like a game of pick up sticks. It's so much more stimulating to encounter, so much nicer to see than bare soil scraped free of any life or mess. And, as everything starts to slow down for a much needed winter rest before spring, it's the perfect time for reflection, getting right up close and taking in all the details that you might not otherwise see in the rush and heat of summer.
Wildlife - A time of migration and movement, it's the perfect season to get to know the wildlife in your garden. And, if you provide habitat, food and water sources, you'll get visitors over and over again. It's important to pause every once in a while and understand that you're part of a world that's so much larger than yourself. Spend some time observing who comes to feed from your late flowers, who dips in and out of your debris piles and who sunbathes on tall grass stalks. Fall is a great time to consider and learn more about the non-plant elements in our green spaces; fungi, lichen and insects, birds, reptiles and micro organisms. It's fascinating to watch It all function together in one huge connected ecosystem and realize what part we play in it all.
If you're interested in learning more about Naturalistic gardening and design, check out our other blog, 5 Great Gardening Books that will keep you returning it has some amazing tomes by the best in the business. Plus I would add, Naturalistic Planting Design by Nigel Dunnett (a more recent purchase that's also fantastic).
Sara-Jane & Alicia at Simple Leaf Design
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