Let’s all have messy gardens

Leave your seedheads

Rudbeckia seedheads

If you take a look at my garden at this time of year, it looks a bit messy with seedheads and dead foliage left standing.

During the growing season, we happily deadhead spent flowers and cut back dead foliage. But at this time of year, that foliage provides a habitat for pollinators to overwinter. And those seedheads provide food for birds. Goldfinches, chickadees and other songbirds survive on the seeds through the winter.

Sometimes it takes a shift in our thinking to learn to appreciate something we’ve always thought was unattractive. If you look at how nature does it on a prairie, meadow or in the woods, nothing is cut back or removed. Everything is left standing through the winter, and then the new plants grow through the old leaves in spring.

Maybe it is time for a mind reset so we can learn to appreciate the standing foliage and seeds. They are, after all, snuggly homes for all those pollinators we try so hard to encourage throughout the growing season.

This doesn’t mean you can’t have a lightly groomed landscape instead of a typical meadow, so you can certainly cut back some of the foliage as it dies, but try to leave much of it to catch snow and rain through the winter. And use the “chop and drop” method of cleanup – as you cut it back, cut it into smaller pieces and allow it to drop in the bed. It will give your beds a natural mulch for the spring plants to emerge through.

And apples are in! Cool autumn evenings call for the scent of apples and cinnamon wafting through the house.

Here’s an easy fruit crisp

Simply fill a deep baking dish with two to four cups of sliced and peeled apples. Dust with cinnamon and top with a crumbly crust. Bake for about half an hour at 350 degrees

Crunchy topping

1 c. regular oatmeal
½ c. brown sugar
½ c. flour
1 t. cinnamon
¼ c. defrosted apple juice concentrate

Mix the first four ingredients; drizzle apple juice into the oatmeal mixture. Stir until the mixture forms small clumps. Spread mixture on top of the fruit and bake for 30 minutes at 350.

Alternate topping

⅓ c. chopped toasted walnuts
½ c. flour
½ c. rolled oats
½ c. brown sugar
1 T. granulated sugar
¼ t. cinnamon
¼ t. nutmeg
¼ c. softened butter

Mix dry ingredients well and then cut in the butter until it forms small clumps. Continue as above.

4 thoughts on “Let’s all have messy gardens

  1. nancy marie allen September 28, 2022 / 7:45 am

    I love the “chop and drop” method of cleaning up flower beds! And, the Apple Crisp recipe was definitely a surprise bonus, so thank you for that!


  2. Joan Brasier October 2, 2022 / 6:58 am

    I just found you on the UUCA website. I’m adding myself to your blog as we seem to be like gardeners and I also love apple crisp. 🙂


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