With the strange weather we've been having, the plants have been behaving a bit oddly. Case in point is Salvia apiana. One of the focal points of the front garden, the flower stalks of this beautiful gray-green sage usually grow to about 6 feet, and the plant can be pruned to about 4 feet after the growing season.
This year was different. The late rain resulted in 8+ feet high flower stalks, but the dry weather after caused the larger of the two plants to split in thirds at the bottom. The middle third broke off the root and had to be composted. The other two fell in opposite direction, creating a less than pleasing display. Initially, I planned to prune everything close to the ground - but then I realized that the remaining blossoms were literally humming with small bees and other pollinators (of course they fly away when you need a photo...).
Here's where things get complicated for the suburban gardener: On the one hand, I like my garden moderately tidy, on the other hand, offering a wildlife haven is high on my list of garden priorities. Fortunately, the rest of the garden didn't look bad, with some Clarkia providing much needed color and the grasses and coyote brush offering resting places for the eye. I decided to leave the salvia until all the blooms were spent, and went on a cutting spree when only the seeds were left.
Even that was a compromise, as I know how much the birds enjoy the seeds. I had a similar conundrum in the back. Salvia brandegii 'Pacific Blue' is supposed to be about 2 feet wide, trellised against a fence. Last year I'd been a little lazy cutting it back, so this year I had 4 feet of growth.
This delighted the birds, which enjoy perching on the branches and picking these seeds.
But it's also the main view from the back window, so I decided a week ago that it was time to take out the pruners. It seemed acceptable because I knew that the lavender had started setting seed, and those are the most favorite of the gold finches. And, just to be on the safe side, I shook out each branch before I put it in the garden waste bin, a small offering for the visitors to the garden (here's a photo from an earlier post).