Leaving the beds with winter cover right now is hard to do. We want to “neaten up” the garden beds, especially if we have early bulbs like snow drops, winter aconite, iris reticulata or perennials such as hellebores blooming.
It’s so exciting to watch the plants green up - but how can you if you have leaves, broken stems and flat grasses filling the beds?
Leave up those asters and golden rods because “good insects” lay their eggs inside. Butterflies at the chrysalid stage could be attached to sticks and stems on your butterfly plants. Hollow stemmed plants and the bases of tall grasses are also places where native bees may hibernate through the winter.
Cleaning away leaves might mean you also take away Fritillary butterflies. They are wintering in the leaf litter, near violets which they use as their food source.
Maybe for this year, remove some of the debris and put it in your compost pile or an inconspicuous area where the native pollinators can still emerge. Leave some material in the beds, pulled away from the early spring display, and watch to see if new creatures appear in your garden this Spring.
Follow this link to find a wonderful, concise download “Invite Pollinators to Your Garden” by two of MSU’s experts for additional information, and scroll down their page for additional photos and links on this most important topic.
A special thanks to our friend Rosann Kovalcik of Wild Birds Unlimited in Grosse Pointe Woods for also sharing her knowledge and information on this topic at http://www.wildbirdsgpw.com/dont-clean-your-yard/