As temperatures dip below freezing here in Amish Country and snow starts to infiltrate the forecasts, it’s time to tuck the gardens in for winter. Around the Inn, we’ve brought tender plants indoors, shredded leaves for quicker decomposition in the grassy areas, and planted bulbs for next year. The growing season has come to a close, and my list of late-fall garden chores involves significantly less maintenance and stress than the other seasons.
I choose to leave most of our gardens alone for the winter. In the past, I’ve been guilty of cutting everything back and collecting every last leaf and piece of debris for a tidy look. Leaving some plant material behind, though, provides food and habitat for wildlife and bugs during the cold season. Horticulture Magazine writes that even if damaging insects survive, it’s worth saving the beneficial ones, which will dominate come springtime. Knowing this, it’s easier to set aside my tidy tendencies.
Leaving a few plants standing all winter benefits more than just the bugs, too. There’s beauty in the rustle of an ornamental grass in the winter garden or the raw structure of woody plants. Seed heads and dried hyndrangea flowers can support pretty, unique snowcaps or can become fully encased in ice.
My final chore in preparation for the winter season at The Inn at Honey Run is to purchase a heated birdbath and make a cold-weather water source available for it. The warm water will be popular with the feathered creatures who stick around for the winter. I’ll need to stock up on birdseed too, to keep our feeders full.
As you work to prepare your garden for winter, I hope you’ll consider minimal cleanup in your landscape beds. Find joy in the thought of supporting wildlife and in leaving plants standing just a little longer.