How can our spring gardens support pollinators and other biodiversity? That’s the guiding question we invite you to ask yourselves. We have some great advice from some of our master gardeners. Read on.
Don’t get overly tidy. Mimic what you see in nature. Barb Mckean, Head of Education at RBG
Think like a forest. Perennials are plants that evolved growing in the remains of their old stems and leaves. Don’t get overly tidy. Otherwise, a lot of life gets thrown away into yard waste bags in early spring (including larvae and eggs of beneficial insects and pollinators, and microscopic invertebrates, bacteria and fungi that add life to the soil and break down leaves and stems and turn them into humus that feeds new growth). Pulling away last year’s leaves means your garden starts each year with nutrient deficiencies. Mimic what you see in nature to restore natural processes that feed the soil so it can feed your plants. Be patient as eventually all those old leaves and stems will break down.
Barb shares the following story from her own garden:
This spring, we had a Brown Thrasher drop by in early May, on migration back from the southern US. They aren’t really a city bird, but it was able to forage for invertebrates in the leaf litter in my garden for over 48 hours. If I had followed the old-school “rules” of gardening (‘clean up leaf litter in early spring because it harbours disease’), those critters would’ve been out at the curb in a bag a month ago and that bird would have had to have moved on. Instead it found shelter and food after its journey. I posted it on the local birder’s page and Lyn Hanna Folkes responded that I had stolen her Thrasher. We have the only two naturalized yards in our neighbourhood. The bird spent Friday in her yard, then popped over to mine for Saturday and Sunday. Smart bird!