Monday, November 27, 2017

Keep it messy. Keep it alive.

Still feeling tempted to tidy up your  garden for the winter time? Think again. Xerces Society says that one of the best things a gardener can do in the fall and winter for pollinators is LEAVE THE LEAVES ALONE: let it be messy.

The reason why moths, butterflies, native bumblebees and solitary bees, beetles, snails, spiders etc are begging you to control your OCD this fall and leave "dead" matter alone (there is nothing dead about pesticide-free garden), is because leaves and such, provide shelter from the cold and food for these little critters. Leave "litter" provides protection from predators. So why would you rack them away?
At the very least, leave some leave and twig piles.


Fall garden, Strathcona
In fact, as Xerces Society points out, the vast majority of butterflies and moths overwinter in the landscape as an egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, or adult: "Red-banded hairstreaks lay their eggs on fallen oak leaves, which become the first food of the caterpillars when they emerge.
Luna moths and swallowtail butterflies disguise their cocoons and chrysalis as dried leaves, blending in with the “real” leaves. There are many such examples."


Fall garden. Strathcona.
Remember too, that these critters are food for birds, chipmunks and other wildlife.

Solitary bees will take winter refuge under a pile of bark or dried leaves, or nest in cavities in hollowed out stems and decomposing logs.

When you permit yourself to be a laidback gardener, you help to support a rich population of native pollinators in the following spring and summer.

Interested in other reasons for why a little messiness is good for your garden?
Read the entire article here.

Also:
The wildlife value of a messy garden.

So this fall and winter, please don't make a fuss over a bit of mess, and be proud that your gardening is adding value to wildlife habitat, and a diversity of insects!