In a post written last March titled Mowing Bedlam, I described how I've completely ceased any extensive maintenance on my iris and daylily beds. Instead of individually cutting down each iris in nice fans and individually removing the remnants of last year's daylily foliage, I have been simply mowing them off and I thought the results were quite acceptable.
Well, year two of the experiment on the daylily beds has been complete, and the results, seen at right and pictured from the opposite end of the bed as in my previous post, are just, if I say it myself, gorgeous. And I've done nothing at all to the bed this year (no fertilizing, watering, or extra mulching) except spend about 10 minutes weeding it. Not 10 minutes a day or 10 minutes a week, 10 MINUTES THE ENTIRE SUMMER. It seems that chopping up last years foliage and leaving it behind as mulch is quite sufficient to keep the decent bloom going.
You'll recall that I also threatened to start mowing off the peonies and let the foliage also lie where it was chewed up by the mower. Well, you can compare the picture of the partial bed at the left, taken in May, with the picture below of the same area, taken exactly 2 months earlier. I don't think the peonies look any worse for wear and this was not even a good peony year; a cool wet spring resulted in the loss of quite a few peony buds to botrytis and it didn't seem to matter if the peonies were massed in this minimally-cared for bed or separated in other beds.
In fact, the picture above is a decent example of one of the reasons to photograph your beds. I thought the peony season was wasted this year, but looking back at the pictures, it looks pretty good to me. The same thing happened with my roses; I believed I had a dismal early rose season because of the wet weather, but the pictures I took of the garden in mass look like it was blooming away with no thought for tomorrow. Using the camera really does help us see as if we were looking through the eyes of another gardener, one separated from the frost and wind and heat.
Anyway, all written sources to the contrary, I'm continuing this experiment. No fertilizer, no extra water, and no extra mulch but the foliage of these perennials back on the ground again this fall. If these beds stay looking this good, my low-maintenance dreams are realized.