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Should I cut back my perennials?

One bright, warm day last week, I walked around our front garden in a dark blue funk. We had been away from home for two weeks, and the late summer garden we had left behind had morphed into the overgrown, tangled mess that surrounded Sleeping Beauty’s castle.

In that short time, weeds and several varieties of gigantic grasses had overtaken the beds. Peony leaves had turned brown. Most of the Obedient Plants were in disarray on the ground, and the catmints looked like fright wigs.

I didn’t know where to start clearing and clipping, but I was determined to be methodical about the task. Weeding the beds seemed to be the most urgent need, and I soon found that after I cleared out most of the unwanted greenery, I could better see what else I needed to do.

As I worked, I recalled a recent Facebook post from the Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Program that said, “Fall Is the Time to Cut Back Perennials (if you want to), but NOT a Good Time to Prune Shrubs.” Good advi...

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