Give nature a blanket in winter

and you’ll see habitat everywhere you look

Dried leaves as blankets

I freely admit I’m not neat or tidy, or organized.  But I like beauty and that usually requires some tidiness or organization.

For most suburbanites the fall tidy up means a clearing of dead leaves.  But imagine if we treated our bodies the same way?  Instead of putting on a warm clothes for winter, we took off our fall outfits and put on our beach wear?  That is what we do to our garden beds when we cut away all the growth of summer and pick up leaves instead of letting some create a protective layer over our beds in winter.

Leaf litter adds an insulating layer onto a garden bed. With enough moisture it will decompose to add organics with no mess, hauling, or trips to Home Depot.

So tell me, does my lawn look unkempt?  The view might not be perfect its the positive net habitat that I’m after. I’m looking to provide a happy winter home for creatures like below.  Its using a pot nestled into leaf litter as a place to hibernate for winter.

On the left the terra cotta pot and at its back a pile of leaf litter. Buried down below is the cocoon I uncovered and promptly covered back up.

The leaf litter behind the pot acts as a blanket against cold dessicating winds and winter sun.   I will check back later in early spring to see whose inside.  It’s these guys that will create the caterpillars we need to feed hungry baby birds.  So if you like birds, providing some food for these guys alone will help our bird population. But even better is to see the butterfly or moth, the lepidoptera they become.  Lepidoptera (/ˌlɛpɪˈdɒptərə/ LEP-i-DOP-tər-ə, from Ancient Greek lepís “scale” + pterón “wing”) is an order of insects that includes butterflies and moths.

There are many plants in my yard this guy will be able to feed from.  One of my go to plants is Dill.  Not only is it great to brush against, it brings in lovely butterflies.  I also plant bergamot, agastache, and penstemon.  For other ideas to be part of the food chain, look for  LPHost designated plants in the Xereces Society booklet.  To keep nature, we must replicate natual environments.  In a decent sized garden like mine its easy to make room, so why not?

Dried Leaves as Art 

The swaying of an ornamental grass in winter.  Performance art for relaxation.

This is my southeast facing front view.  In in this year’s dry, sunny winter the stage is a little different. The remnant leaves from the early freeze of last September is a back drop to the waves of buttery Maidenhair grass seed heads.

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gracillimus’ is a chinese Maidenhair grass that can grow to 5′ in ideal conditions. Where I grow it receives about 3 hours of sun a day.  So its not as robust as those in full sun, it is still gorgeous.  In the back is Achnatherum calamagrostis.  Achnatherum have  3 – 5″ seed heads on long flowy stems.  Commonly known as silver spike grass it does well in dryer patch along the wall.   Next to it,  Stipa Tenuissima Mexican Feather grass practicing a hula sway.  Graceful and stout.  Who’d want to miss such dancing and cutting these guys back.

An amateur gardener who loves to watch the garden grow.

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