Shows the Alcove garden ready for winter.

Ready for Winter

Amanda Carrigan

Winterizing a garden for most people means cutting down all the perennials, and raking the leaves up, maybe wrapping or covering a few tender plants. But from the point of view of the ecosystem, this leaves the garden a wasteland, with little or no food and shelter to be found for wildlife, and no organic matter left to break down and add nutrients and humus to the soil.

Winterizing the Alcove Garden is pretty much the opposite. Nothing gets cut down, and the whole space is mulched with leaves, mostly from the maple in the shade bed, plus some brought in from elsewhere. The leaves and standing plants make a good place for many invertebrates, and their eggs or larvae, to winter, and provide shelter for small animals. The eggs and larvae, as well as seeds and fruit on the plants will provide food for birds and mammals active during the winter. And come spring, the leaves and plant debris will be breaking down and improving the soil. So much less work this way, with so many benefits to the garden and wildlife!

Shows the Alcove garden ready for winter.

The Alcove Garden, prepared for winter by adding a layer of leaves but with plants left standing to provide food and shelter for wildlife.

Photo: Amanda Carrigan