What do we notice in a garden in the winter? Animals searching for food, dormant plants, the impressive architecture of trees, and plenty of dead leaves immediately come to mind. We can best enjoy winter in the garden if we plan ahead. If you want wildlife habitat around your home, leave the area natural. Over-tidying takes away opportunities for animals to forage and to find shelter. Removing dead stems, leaves, and seed heads takes away natural habitats. Notice the different birds and animals during winter months and note how they use the area around where you live.
Birds are interesting to watch. Having bird feeders attracts them, yet they will hunt for seeds if feeders are empty, and often they prefer to forage. At the botanical garden, we did not remove dead flowers of plants they prefer. Some common flowering plants that birds enjoy throughout our WNY winters are coneflowers, tickseed, Joe Pye, bachelor buttons, and black eyed Susan. Small birds will perch right on flower seed heads and enjoy a snack.
Shrubs, trees, brush, and fallen leaves provide habitat throughout the winter for various animals. Using fallen leaves for mulch protects plants from wind and adds nutrients to soil. This local website has many good ideas for using autumn leaves.
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