Be a Messy Gardener

Overwintering-birds-800x524Click to learn the value of being a ‘messy gardener.’

About Eliza Waters

Gardener, writer, photographer, naturalist
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77 Responses to Be a Messy Gardener

  1. neihtn2012 says:

    Very interesting article! We have several Bradford pear trees that deer and other wildlife feed on throughout the winter, cleaning them up in time for spring.

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Thanks, Hien. It is becoming more popular as awareness grows. Once we’ve had a week or so of 50+ degrees in spring, clean up is permissible. Win/win. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Anne says:

    I am all for being a ‘messy gardener’ and enjoy wonderful unexpected bounties in return!

  3. sandyjwhite says:

    A great thing to do. Goldfinches love to feed on Coneflower seeds in winter.

  4. cindy knoke says:

    Yes, we leave fruit on the trees for them.

  5. Alice Pratt says:

    “Waste not, want not”

  6. Wonderful post, Eliza! I’ve always been a messy gardener too, for the birds to enjoy the seeds. And in spring I wait as long as possible before pulling up dead bushy plants so birds can have plenty of brush for nest-making. Makes me smile to see a robin picking through the dead lobelia for comfy nesting material. ๐Ÿค—

  7. Murtagh's Meadow says:

    I am a messy gardener and this is the perfect reason to be one!!

  8. dawnbirdau says:

    Beautiful photograph. Eliza, have you read The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben? It’s a really nice read.

  9. Vicki says:

    Thanks for sharing the article, Eliza. I’m sure if I had a real in-ground garden and owned my property, I’d be keen to share nature’s seasonal remains with the wee creatures.

    One thing I’m adamant about is not using synthetic chemicals in my tiny balcony garden.

  10. A messy garden makes for happy wildlife! ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Kris P says:

    This is a good reminder, even though our SoCal wildlife doesn’t face the kind of same kind of seasonal challenges as critters in colder climates. In an effort to tidy up, I often don’t even give plants time to self-seed.

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Thanks, Kris. I expect the lack of long term dormancy might alter this article for your climate. Often if a plant looks shot or I want just a few seeds and not hundreds, I’ll leave one or two heads to go to seed and compost the rest.

  12. Reblogged this on LIVING THE DREAM and commented:

  13. shamanism1 says:

    Sage advice ๐ŸŒฟ๐Ÿ€๐ŸŒฒ

  14. naturebackin says:

    For me messy means enriching and enchanting. I confess to cringing at neat and sterile where nature is kept out. Hoping that more of us learn to learn from nature. Thanks for the reminder.

  15. Sue Vincent says:

    Messy…. always been that ๐Ÿ˜‰

  16. Irene says:

    Yay! Iโ€™ve been feeling guilty about being a messy gardener because everyone around me is so much neater. Guilt is gone! Thanks. ๐Ÿ˜Š

  17. Jet Eliot says:

    I really liked this article, Eliza. Not only is it well written, but it gives good evidence of so many different aspects of how the wildlife benefit from this kind of gardening. I have watched this activity of birds for 17 years on my own property, having practiced this kind of earth-friendly maintenance, and it is astounding. So much life!

  18. Sagittarius Viking says:

    Ooo yes! Great article Eliza. Thank you for sharing. I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend โค

  19. Robin says:

    I got the notice from the Habitat Network, too. Just in time. I was eyeing the flower garden, wondering if I should start cleaning things up (it becomes a riot of weeds by the end of summer). Then a few goldfinches came flying out, and I remembered that I should leave things be for now. I don’t mind being lazy for a while. ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Nice Eliza! Very informative!

  21. Val Boyko says:

    I embraced this totally a few years ago. I love my messy garden at this time of year… and so do our critter followers. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  22. Kathy Sturr says:

    Love this Eliza! I was always a very messy gardener and it gave me comfort that even though I wasn’t at “home” during the winters, the birds could feed and seek shelter in my garden. Not sure what kind of gardener the new owner is but now I have a new garden to nurture nature.

  23. pbmgarden says:

    I’ve taken this message to heart.

  24. Excellent article. Itโ€™s nice to know that winter gardens never really sleep!

  25. I let everything die back except for my roses, Eliza. I am constantly seeing deer and rabbit and birds eating in my Gardens not only in the fall but in the winter as well. I have a flower called the blanket flower that is still flowering believe it or not, but it has dead heads containing seeds which the birds eat like crazy. I do know the value of a messy Garden especially in the lean months. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  26. Peter Herpst says:

    I’ve always been a messy gardener due to general laziness. I’m thrilled that it’s now in fashion. Now if a dust and cobweb covered house with too much stuff piled around could become trendy, I’d be right on the cutting edge inside and out:)

  27. Jen says:

    Absolutely loved this article Eliza, thanks for sharing!!!

  28. Jane Lurie says:

    Good point! You provide great information, Eliza.

  29. Julie says:

    Great article.. messy all the way ๐Ÿ˜€ I’ve started to implement the chop and drop on my borders as well, great for the insects etc to overwinter in. Neat, highly maintained gardens are a big turn off! Bring on the wildlife I say ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. Maria says:

    Great reading Eliza, I had no idea it worked like this.

  31. That was a fascinating read. Thanks for sharing the link, Eliza.

  32. Leaving ‘stuff’ in the garden helps both critters and my ancient back. Win-win. ๐Ÿ˜†

  33. Pingback: Swamp Sunflower – Megadiverse Piedmont

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