Gardener, Spare That Stem!
Do you ever wonder if it is better to clean up the garden in fall or wait until spring? Well, stop wondering. Garden clean up in spring is far better – that is, if you want your garden to be full of birds, bees, butterflies, and other beautiful or helpful creatures.
The Native Plant Herald, which is the blog of Prairie Nursery, an excellent source for native plants, has a recent post on this topic that is well worth reading.
Bees, butterflies, and beneficial insect predators can more easily survive the winter in a garden full of leaf litter and standing stalks. Many butterfly species hibernate in leaf litter, either as adults or caterpillars. Many bees overwinter in the stems of dead plants (even in spring, The Native Plant Herald recommends allowing the first 10-15″ of stem to stand).
Similarly, Native ladybugs, those voracious eaters of aphids, overwinter under leaves.
Birds benefit over winter from seedheads, as well as from added shelter. In addition, allowing plants to stand promotes a greater spring insect population, which adds to an essential source of protein for birds.
For my fellow procrastinators, please note that this is one of the few instances where virtue is on the side of those who put off a major chore. So take advantage of it!
Go read the post, you can find it by clicking here.
By the way, in case you were wondering, I derived my title from that great 1837 hit, ‘Woodman, Spare That Tree’. Perhaps not very appealing to contemporary musical tastes, but if you’re curious you can give a listen on the above link.