Yes, your summer perennials can still have a role in your winter garden! A good fall clean up of the garden is always healthy for the garden, but there are perennials that can be left standing to provide interest and detail all through the winter.
The genus ‘Allium’ has developed into dozens and dozens of varieties; tall and short, compact and loose. The allium ‘Millenium’ was the Perennial Plant Association selection as the 2018 Perennial Plant of the Year! The herbaceous perennial is a relative of the lowly onion and is often called the ‘butterfly magnet’. Once the flowers go by, leave the stalks to dry in place. The plant will hold its blooms throughout the winter, leaving a striking stalk with the dried bloom head at the top.
Another perennial favorite that keeps giving in the garden is the echinacea, or coneflower. One of the hardiest of perennials, growers have developed a multitude of colors beyond the original purple we all know. But, did you also know it’s seed heads are a favorite of native songbirds? I know the goldfinches can be heard chattering like hens in my garden while they dine in the late summer. Even into winter, the echinacea stems and seedheads provide a striking vertical element in the snow.
Don’t discount sedum, either. Another perennial that growers have had fun with, two of my current favorites are ‘Matrona’ and ‘Maestro’. With their deep purple bronze leaves, they are striking in the summer and autumn garden. In the winter, the stems and flowers become a beautiful winter bouquet after a light snow.
If you keep you plants, perennials and shrubs, happy and healthy during their growing season, they will continue to add to the beauty of you garden, even during their winter dormancy.