This year I'm taking on the tedious task of clipping all of last years dead matter into smaller bits like mulch, with my hand pruners, and dropping it where it be. The result isn't a nicely manicured bed with the bags load of cedar mulch from the hardware store... instead its a natural, chaotic, quilt of many colors. The pale hollow stems of last years lilies and mallow, the seed heads of every imaginable shape and size, and decaying leaves of all hues, left to lay. So picture me, standing gingerly among the newly sprouting perennial tops, carefully avoiding the long wispy branches of roses that I have yet to hard prune, holding 5 feet of stem and chopping, clipping, cutting and occasionally breaking with my hands, pieces flying in every direction. Its awful silly. I'm sure the neighbors think- what on earth is she doing? Well naturally, I'm making my own mulch.
I'm almost done- finished about 75% of the beds, and plan on completing the rest in the next day or two. So much less work than hauling it all away, and I'm just sure its somehow a better choice. Eventually this spring I may top some of the roses and clematis with blanket of fresh compost from our pile.
Now if I can just hold tight while the plants cover it all up. I must resist the urge to go buy uniform cedar mulch. I have got to remind myself this is a better, more economically and eco-friendly option. After all, it won't be long before the lysimachia, ferns, and daylily foliage is all you see-- and the before the leafy perennials cover all of last years matter turned mulch, the tulips and daffodils will serve as a nice distraction.