Nature’s Highlights (Frost in the Garden)

Anybody who has taken one of my classes knows that I always harp on about NOT doing the traditional fall cleanup of the garden…instead of scalping your perennial beds to the ground in fall and removing most of the dead plant material, I persuade my students to leave plant stems standing right into the winter, and delay the cleanup til the following spring. Seed heads provide valuable forage for those birds who spend the winter here, and the leaf litter, hollow plant stems and decaying plant materials all provide plenty of opportunities for beneficial insects to hibernate through the winter in some form. Remember, many of those bugs are are the superheroes of the insect world, who will wake up and start patrolling for pests starting in early spring! And hungry birds picking around your gardens in the dead of winter will appreciate those insect eggs, caterpillars and other protein-rich insect morsels hiding in your garden beds.

But sometimes, it’s not about the wildlife at all. In summer, it might be the colors of a palm-sized zinnia flower or the scent of a rosebush in full bloom that stops you in your tracks to marvel with all your senses. Late fall might not have such flamboyance, but it has its own highlights. Early in the morning, seed heads, touched by an early morning frost or dusted with little snow caps, might give you pause to stop for a moment and take in an unexected but quite lovely view of the familiar. And in this crazy world we live in, dictated by schedules and commitments, any pause to consider nature has got to be a good thing…

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Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) flowers tipped by frost on a cold October morning

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