Autumn un-tidy

A few musings as promised on the lack of Autumn ‘tidying’ (following Anni’s post).  In theory, I should be chopping down all these seed heads …

A corner of my front border

A corner of my front border

But looking at these more closely, I observe tiny cave-like dwellings in the marjoram …

pot marjoram seed heads

pot marjoram seed heads

And lurking inside those untidy purple toadflax seedheads are nutritious black seeds, which could be a perfect snack for something on a cold day …

toadflax seeds

toadflax seeds

Where I deadheaded them earlier this year, there are hollow stems – whole tower blocks where insects could be curling up ready for the winter …

hollow toadflax stems

hollow toadflax stems

The ‘lambs lettuce’ path below is full of bits of grass, self sown cranesbill, and strawberry plants that walked out of their pots …

lambs lettuce path

lambs lettuce path

I once tried to tidy up under this hedge, pulling up the grass and intending to put bark mulch underneath.  I hadn’t got very far before I noticed a movement.  On closer inspection, I saw a tiny newt which had been taking full advantage of the warm cover that the ‘mess’ of dried grass provided.  I picked it up to check that I hadn’t injured it, feeling pretty rotten that I’d disturbed it.  It sat, blinking, on my hand. I gave up the idea of tidying, and tucked the little creature back under the hedge. 

One permaculture principle is to ‘use edges and value the marginal‘:

“don’t think you are on the right track just because its a well-beaten path” 

My untidy path is not a well-beaten one, but this edgy ‘mess’ will be a haven for wildlife through the winter.  I can still step on it to get at the lambs lettuce for winter salads.  I’ll just need to give any lurking residents a bit of warning first.

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don’t do anything until you have to and then only do the minimum — Anni’s perennial veggies

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This is a repost of Anni’s recent blog, with a timely reminder not to be too tidy this Autumn.  This is the time of year that I look at the things I want to ‘tidy’, and ask myself what function they might be performing for wildlife as we head into winter.  I’ll muse a bit more on this in my next post.  Meanwhile, here’s Anni’s article:

I am working on a new book and hence all my writing effort has gone into that and there just hasn’t been sufficient spare time to keep this blog up to date. Nor has there been much time to spend in the garden, but as my main maxim for interacting with the garden is (as […]

via don’t do anything until you have to and then only do the minimum — Anni’s perennial veggies