I’m so dang excited! I’ve always been a messy gardener. If I see a plant I like, I usually end up buying it without thought of where it will go in the garden. Random plants are placed here and there—of course I do pay attention to what the plant needs in terms of shade, sun and soil however I pay less attention to color and having a matchy-matchy set of plants. Sometimes size has tripped me up—I’ve had to transplant flowers when I didn’t thoroughly read the description. “Oh, it’s about this tall and this wide” I say to myself. Hence the transplanting.
I’m also a sucker for volunteers and seedlings—I can quite bear the thought of just getting rid of them in the compost pile. “They’ve come this far” I say. It took so much effort to bring a new baby plant to life! So, I either let them grow in place or transplant them. The good thing is that my garden is constantly evolving. No nice and tidy here. But, oh the colors, textures and shapes at all times of the season!
Then amid all this beautiful chaos, fall arrives. Like a smack in the face (am I exaggerating?). I’ve never been one to due a massive fall clean up. I detest the loud noise of the leaf blower. I’m not up for raking and shoving leaves into garbage bags. Hauling the compost pile? Now? And what would I do for winter interest in the garden without branches, dried leaves, spent flowers and seed pods? Those Instagram pics just waiting to be shared in January? I have always waited until spring (or early summer) for the clean up (as needed of course).
Now I can be vindicated! Everywhere I read online is talking about being a lazy gardener, a messy gardener. Why? It turns out this is good for your garden and the ecosystem! All that winter interest I left (branches, dried leaves, spent flowers and seed pods) are the egg nurseries for all kinds of beneficial bugs. These are also where the adult guys spend their winter hibernating. Leaving the clean up until it’s officially warm (Wisconsin = July, lol) allows the eggs to hatch, a new generation to be born and the hibernators to emerge. (I guess the magic temperature to wait for is 50 degrees!) Now I know why I always have so many more butterflies around. The messy garden is also the perfect habitat for birds. My seed pods offer food and the branches and other debris offer shelter.
I can now relax knowing I’m doing the right thing. And enjoy my messy, chaotic and gorgeous garden.