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Super Green Thumb
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Wild and rambling flower garden nearing an end

The fiesta del sol plants are six to eight feet tall and a hundred or more zinnas are in their final act of bloom. What I'm wondering is how long to leave the plants up after the killing frost comes. The wild thicket is pretty ugly at that time, in the middle of an otherwise maintained yard. But I'm thinking that the birds may wish to feast on the many seeds that are available in my overgrown patch. Any ideas about that, maybe just leave it alone until January or February or at least until most of the seeds have fallen clear of the dead plants?

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Super Green Thumb
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Re: Wild and rambling flower garden nearing an end

hendi_alex wrote: maybe just leave it alone until January or February or at least until most of the seeds have fallen clear of the dead plants?
I would. That's part of why you grew all that, I'm sure, to attract/ provide for birds and other wildlife that need them.

I don't think your patch of dead zinnias and what not is ugly, just pretty in a different, more natural, way and definitely contrasting with suburban lawn and trimmed gardens (maybe you need to let more of your yard grow wild? :) ). But I think you will find in the dead of winter, when nothing much is happening in your garden, especially if you get snow there, you will enjoy looking out at the tall brown stems of zinnias swaying in the breeze, standing out against the snow. A garden with the dead plants left standing, is definitely more active and alive looking than a trimmed one...

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I agree. Last winter in my garden, Goldfinches, House finches, and Pine Siskins were all over the zinnias, cosmos, and echinacea, and Chickadees, Nuthatches, and Timice were all over the sunflowers. Song sparrows, White Throated sparrows, and Junco's come south here during the winter and they were everywhere on the ground, along with Cardinals and other regulars. :D

The Helpful Gardener
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Alex if you could see my "wild" border now. A mix and mosh of my stuff, the stuff the birds planted, other weeds regenerating from the soil. Some people blanch at the idea, but I see the other side too...

The sparrows all congregate here, and the juncos... the last insects of the season concentrate here as well. There is s life here I don't find in my neater tider beds out front; they are certainly more in keeping with my neighborhood's look, but not what the critter's are craving. Even my cats congregate out back here; no suprise right, and there have been three fatalities, but we all make personal choices and my cats have rights too, at least they tell me so. We provide for a lot of birds in the back, including plenty of dense forbs and shrubs to escape predation, and the felines have been mopre interested in voles and moles lately, which I applaud. But I digress...

This feral knot of plants will be left in it's entirety (minus a few obvious weeds like dandelion, but what is an obvious weed in a border with Culvers root and goldenrod?) until spring. The chocolate eupatoriums are fully flowered and look great (kinda late this year?); splitting them tomorrow, as well as the mountain mint. I'll gather seed from my [url=]Rudebeckia triloba[/url], a biennial, so I'll scatter half and save half for next year (still kinda new, so planted two years back, no flowers at all last year, and who knows next? But saving seed this year should spread my cycle over the gaps. We'll see...)

The raspberries and blackberries the birds left last year are getting bigger and the canes are coloring nicely from last year, the sunflowers are almost all picked clean already so those might come out. The silphium, all eight feet of it, is browning and drying, and the seeds are almost gone, but it is some of the grand sculpture in this mess so it stays. The Panicums and Sporobulus are getting worked over pretty hard by the aforementioned flock, but still look airy and brighter with their fall yellows coming on. The winterberry didn't berry this year; somebody must have chopped down the wild male that had been getting things done so looks like I have to find a new boy; a challenge for next spring when I can see flowers. But next year for this border. I'm enjoying it and so are the birds...

I'll cut and rake first thing in spring as shoots and such first peep up. There might be a few losses from mice and such, but the cats will enjoy hunting there in the winter; there are great little tunnels and caves between the big grasses and perennials and sure to be a bunch of voles and mice with all the seed dumped there (I lost a few New England Blazing Stars last year, but there was enough offsets and survivors to maintain plantings). But the idea here is to let nature do it's thing a bit more, so I do. And Nature appreciates it. At least she tells me so :lol:


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