Most of us were taught to get a jump on spring by putting the garden “to bed” in the fall. We’re compelled to cut every perennial down to the ground, yank annuals out by their roots, and rake leaves off beds and lawns. It turns out that for many of us tidiness is overrated, and most of the preseason prep can—and should—wait until spring.
Traditional methods are changing because our priorities have changed: aesthetics are tied to a higher purpose. Gardens, as carefully designed, maintained, and floriferous as they may be, are also living ecosystems, providing habitat and sustenance to all manner of wildlife. Many gardeners have become naturalists and stewards, more likely to measure success by the number of species of pollinators buzzing around their combinations than by how great those plants…
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