Guest Contributor, Wendy Vreeken Banham

Fall Garden – by Wendy Vreeken Banham

I love my garden. Not like I love my husband or my children, of course. But it is hard to beat the joy of being outside with my hands in the dirt.

It’s truly my happy place enjoying when weeding beds, deadheading flowers, and generally finding ways for the garden to look as beautiful as possible.

The payoff is so cool. I admit it, I love it when guests come over and say, “wow!”
My garden is far from perfect.


Here it is back in August, at its peak. Well, actually, a lot of the perennials had already finished blooming, but it still looked pretty nice.

Now, not so much.

Now, usually, I’d already be in cleaning up mode…but this year, I’m of mixed mind.

Recently an article spoke about letting your garden “be” in the Fall. Just letting it do what it does, in all its messiness. It offends me a bit.

I’ve always had a ‘scorched earth’ approach to Fall cleanup. Everything must go! Seedheads, begone! Long tall spent flowers – off with your heads! Dahlia tubers – out you get; time to get comfy and cozy in a nice box, away for the winter

This year I’m thinking, maybe I will just let it be.

I will stay busy digging up those dandelions and the clumps of grass that seem to grow in my garden beds – and Dahlia tubers, yes, those need to get dug up, cleaned off, and put away.

Other than that – I’m going to let it be. All of which would save me a tonne of work!

Why? Because all of that spent vegetation in your garden beds is actually terrific habitat for bugs. Those seed heads are great food for birds. Ladybugs, who eat Aphids in the Spring, need a place of refuge for the Winter. Bees, that are increasingly endangered, need a place to overwinter. Snakes and frogs are looking for a home as well. The more you dig up spent perennials, the more habitat you destroy.

So this year, I’m taking the opportunity to be a bit lazy under the guise of being environmentally responsible.

I’m hoping this new approach can actually be a boon to the bugs and birds that form the bottom of nature’s food chain. So, I’m going to do the world (and my back) a favour, and be lazy for a change.
Happy gardening!

About Wendy:

I’m from a previous generation of news gals who really enjoys this new site. My passion is now gardening, as I sit on the edge of retirement. I’ve worked with Kristina Matisic and Corinne Newell, and am thrilled to add my name to the list of guest contributors.


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  • Reply Corinne November 3, 2016 at 10:47 am

    Great advice, Wendy! Now I can be lazy and leave my garden alone!

  • Reply Debra Christian November 3, 2016 at 8:14 pm

    Thought provoking post Wendy. I, too, am a passionate gardener struggling with the dilemma “to tidy or not to tidy” my perennial beds. I’ve decided to clean up or cut back plants such as iris, (both Bearded and Siberian) as they may be damaged by borer if debris is not removed. Also, anything that will seed prolifically, if not at least partially deadheaded, will receive my attention. I don’t want a yard full of volunteers next spring! Lastly, leaves from the grassy areas of my garden will be gathered, removed and composted. Most of my plants and ornamental grasses shall remain untouched until spring which is making clean-up very easy this fall.

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