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Pruning In The Mixed Garden to Prepare for Winter

November is the time when we prune some of our perennials in preparation for winter. Ideally we want to do this after several killing frosts. Prune stems down to 2-3 inches and avoid damage to the crown of the plants. Many perennials provide outstanding winter interest and structure in the garden, some are even evergreen, so we don’t cut them back until spring. Also to improve overwintering of any tender perennials or ornament grasses, don’t prune these plants now as the foliage may help protect their crowns from cold damage. We do prune plants that may become unsightly over the winter or that may reseed heavily. It’s also particularly important to prune any perennials that may have had disease or insect problems. Be sure to remove the pest ridden foliage from the garden to reduce incidence of trouble next season. My favorite tool for quick clean-up in the autumn is the Okatsune hedge shear pictured here along with some of my other favorite tools. For complete information on Pruning to Prepare for Winter see Chapter 12 of my book The Well-Tended Perennial Garden as well as the lists of what to prune and what not to prune in Appendix C.

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