Let it be…
Amateur Gardening|October 30, 2021
Leave some of your winter garden untouched, says Val
Val Bourne

I’M reminded of the Beatles song Let it Be because standing back is often the best way to encourage wildlife. Doing nothing isn’t as easy as it sounds, especially at this time of year when it’s tempting to reduce everything back to bare earth. This was a regular occurrence in my childhood. After the first frost in September, the secateurs came out and everything was tidied. It was known as ‘putting the garden to bed’, and although it looked tidy it was bad for small insects and birds.

All that’s changed, as many gardeners now leave some of their garden untouched over winter, thereby providing protection for insects and other creatures. This switch in attitude is partly due to climate change because frosts don’t normally occur until later in the year. We may get one in October here, so I generally fleece the vulnerable plants if one is forecast, and then the garden will often carry on until November. Gardeners living in sheltered cities and in the south-east of England may not get any frost at all these days. They can leave their dahlias in. Mine have to be lifted and I learnt this the hard way. In 2012 I lost the lot, following a severe winter.

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