It’s late autumn, and you know what that means: raking leaves, cutting back plants, and stuffing the resulting plant debris into giant brown paper bags. But does it have to mean that? In my case, for the most part, it does not.
A lot has been written about the benefits of NOT cleaning up your garden until spring, and not too early in spring at that. What it boils down to is this: all kinds of beneficial and/or pretty little insects are sleeping in that plant debris.
We’re talking pollinators, butterflies, and insect predators of redeeming social importance. They may be snuggled into hollow stems, or hibernating under fallen leaves, or watching Netflix on their iphones while huddled in dense clumps of perennials. (OK, I made up that last one.)
This approach to garden cleanup nicely complements the fact that I often feel plain lazy at this time of year, especially after I’ve planted a few hundred bulbs in the cooling earth.
This weekend, though, I roused myself to cut back some plants that have too much of a tendency to self-sow where they are not wanted. Specifically, River Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) and various asters.
Probably this is a case of too little, too late, as the seeds of both have been ripe for a good while and many have wandered off to find new homes for themselves. In fact even as I was cutting stems seeds were floating off on their little parachutes (in the case of the Asters) or dropping to the ground.
I didn’t grind up or dispose of the stems and seeds, though. Instead I spread them out over areas where more Asters or River Oats would be a useful thing.
How diligent have you been with your fall garden cleanup?