In my earlier gardening years, I would prune back plants as soon as they started to die. I don’t do that anymore.
Three years ago, I read an article on the New York Times website about a Dutch landscape architect who made the point that you need to make dead plants a part of your garden. His name didn’t stick with me, but the concept did.
I stopped cutting back most perennials as they die off. I started finding beauty in the form of dying plants, especially in late fall when most fade from green to brown. Admittedly, I still cut back some perennials that loose form quickly after death. I can’t stand moldy Hostas in November.
Having worked in agriculture for a decade, I understand the importance of dead plants to a garden. The seeds feed hungry birds, plant residue protects soil from erosion, and roots are protected from freezing weather. It’s natural composting that promotes soil tilth.
Now when I add a plant, I think about its form and how it will look when my garden fades. Dead plants are a part of my garden.