My little corner of the earth is slipping towards its winter nap. Leaves are falling, flowers fading, and everything is looking just a bit unkempt. (More so than normal anyway–my garden has never quite achieved the opposite of unkempt!) Despite the ragged edges, I won’t be rushing out with clippers and rakes. That’s because the fallen leaves and ragged stems that look untidy to us are gold for backyard wildlife. This sad-looking brown-eyed susan has been crawling with hungry goldfinches this week. (Click to enlarge photo.)
Instead of trimming seed heads and discarding them, I leave them as a food source over the winter. In my yard they are especially appreciated by the aforementioned goldfinches and by pine siskins. In addition to being ready-made (and free) bird food, they have interesting shapes and patterns I have come to appreciate. (Click to enlarge photos.)
It’s the same story with leaves, I leave them undisturbed everywhere I possibly can. I enjoy watching the towhees skritch, skritch, skritch through the leaf litter in the winter as they hunt for tasty morsels. Their double foot “hop-scratch” is pretty wonderful. “My” chubby fox sparrows are leaf litter hunters as well.
So, skip the tidying where you can. Sit out under the trees and raise a glass of cider to fall’s untidy beauty.