Insects seeking winter shelter: this is how gardeners help animals in the fall

Author: Daniel Gosling from dpa | Category: Construction and Living | 02/09/2022

Photo: Shutterstock / Monkey Business Images

Withered perennial leaves and more leftovers from garden season? If you do not remove it completely in the fall, birds, insects, small animals – as well as plants next year – will help.

Rake, clear, collect – every year anew. Some gardeners associate everyday autumn life with a lot of work. Others just love it: tidying up at the end of the gardening season, chopping everything neatly and packing away until next year.

But a highly arranged garden can backfire: “It does not provide food for the animals and does not provide protection for plants and insects,” says Isabelle van Groningen of the Royal Garden Academy in Berlin. Joint position by Verina Jedemchik of the German Confederation for the Conservation of Nature (NABU) and Catherine Wenz of the German Federation for the Environment and Nature Conservation (BUND). They all rely on natural gardening.

Here are her tips for animal-friendly gardening—and a compromise proposal for those who want it in a neater way:

Less cleaning

“The best thing and the bottom line is this: Not arranging the garden too well,” says Bond expert Catherine Wiens. This does not mean that everything stays in place, but you make piles of timber and small piles of wood in a corner of the garden.

Gardening lecturer Isabelle van Groningen advises that perennials, for example, should not be cut back at the end of the flowering period or even at the end of the gardening season. The seed pods not only look beautiful, but also provide food for birds. At the same time, perennials are natural insect hotels whose inhabitants can spend the winter here.

And there’s another supposed fall organic waste that’s more valuable than often thought: the leaves of trees and shrubs. This can also become a hotel for insects and, for example, hedgehogs due to which they hibernate in heaps. W: Leaves can be left lying on the beds. It acts here as a winter protection and after rotting as a fertilizer and soil conditioner.

But amateur gardeners have to work in the lawn, or else the grass will rot under the leaves, says van Groningen. “It’s better to collect leaves in the fall with a lawn mower.” The mixture of shredded leaves and grass can be composted more quickly It can later be used again to grow new plants.

No leaf brooms or leaf blowers

The three experts strongly advise against using vacuum cleaners or leaf blowers. “Informants are a disaster for the environment,” says Isabelle van Groningen. “They are destroying the upper layer of the earth and with it a lot of the organisms trying to live there.”

Apart from the noise, devices with internal combustion engines appear Harmful exhaust gases such as carbon, nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide Verena Jedamashek says. In addition, small animals are literally chopped up when using devices with a suction function.

Compromise for decent gardening

For gardeners who need a lot of order in their garden, there is a middle ground: keep house surroundings, garden paths and stairs tidy, then leave the rest as is, advises Isabel van Groningen, who works at the famous Kew Gardens – the Royal Botanic Gardens in London .

Your advice: Shovel leaves regularly from the paths across the beds to the left and right. And this brings something in several ways: the leaf layer provides plants with protection from winter frosts and also attracts blackbirds, for example, which, among other things, peck pests from the beds.

The natural winter cover of the leaves also helps the plant’s long-term growth: the leaves gradually decompose and become valuable compost and soil.

“Nature actually has the best recycling system in place. It’s unbeatable,” Isabelle van Groningen said about working with nature in the park. People always try to give their garden something better, but they often do it more harm. Because nature actually gives him everything he needs.

Suitable plants in the garden

This advice cannot be hastily implemented before winter so that wild animals directly benefit from it. But it’s part of a long-term transformation of the park into a more animal-friendly sanctuary: Needs plants that provide either shelter or food for animals during the colder monthsAccording to Van Groeningen.

These include trees and shrubs with fruits such as ornamental apples or white blackberries. In addition, trees and shrubs as hedges or solitaires provide winter protection for birds, hedgehogs, and other animals.

A good example of this is ivy: “The ivy is a plant that often upsets people because it climbs over things,” says van Groningen. Many think this is bad. But as a native plant whose flowers last the growing season, ivy and its pollen are very important to insects. Blue and black berries are also an important food source for birds and other small animals.

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