Spring is right around the corner, and with rising temperatures will come an abundance of beautiful new growth. Many grasses and perennials in Central Park Gardens grow actively during the warm season, but die back in the winter. Although still perfectly alive and healthy, these plants can look a bit bedraggled and half-dead right now. Enter the pruning shears! Shearing back last year's growth in January and February makes way for the fresh new growth of spring.
The plants that get this special shearing treatment are the winter-dormant grasses and herbaceous (soft-stemmed) perennials. Examples of perennials that fall into this category are California fuchsia (Epilobium canum), goldenrods (Solidago), catmints (Nepeta) and asters. Since their growing points are protected underground, they can be mowed to as low as one or two inches tall. Grass examples are eyelash grass (Bouteloua gracilis), miscanthus (Miscanthus sinensis), and fountain grasses (Pennisetum). Generally, it's better to cut grasses a bit higher to three or four inches high.
If part of your garden looks pretty bare after doing this "big chop", those are places to consider planting winter bulbs, such as daffodils this fall. The daffodils will provide winter greenery and color next year to help fill the gaps between winter dormant plants.