Many gardeners cut back perennials during the winter, but we don’t have to. RHS Bridgewater has left their extensive tall prairie style plantings essentially uncut as you can see from these pictures, taken at the end of January.
By not cutting back the plants, the garden can provide shelter for insects and food for birds during the coldest months. The lines and textures provide plenty of interest for humans too.
I doubt that this style of planting is as low maintenance as it looks: gardeners were working in the garden artfully tending the dead stems.
The plants chosen are overwhelmingly North American natives which jostle amicably with each other for space.
Few concessions are made to January visitors in the form of flowering plants so the eye quickly gets accustomed to comparing and contrasting shades of brown.
After half an hour, I smiled to see my sweetheart enthusiastically dart towards a patch of iris foliage exclaiming, “That’s a pretty brown!”
The walled garden has a calm, reflective atmosphere in summer when it is packed with flowers and allowing the plants’ foliage and seed heads to stand helps the mood persist into the winter.
It must be a treat for staff to watch the sun rise or set there in fine weather for even on a dull winter day at noon there was a quiet sense of glory.