It may not seem like it, but gardens are still full of life even in winter and fall. Most if it is hibernating, but if you look close enough you can find evidence.
I got out in my garden last November and played detective, finding a few fun things in the garden.
This lady bug found shelter in an abandoned spider’s nest. This cluster of leaves are the only ones left in the magnolia tree. They’ve stayed put because the spider weaved them all together for a safe nest. Now that the spider’s gone, this ladybug found a cozy spot out of the wind.
Where there is a will, there is a way!
These white dots on strands are lacewing eggs. I found these on the underside of a dried witchhazel leaf. Lacewings are beneficial insects that eat a lot of pests. Lacewings are even sold to get rid of pests in gardens. These eggs will hatch into larvae in the spring, and then turn into the adult lacewing.
Goldfinches don’t eat insects- just seeds. They love coneflower seeds. This seedhead is evidence the goldfinches have found it a tasty treat.
There was 3 things flowering in my garden this mid-November. Witchhazel, annual strawflower, and this calendula. It was a pretty cold day, yet this tiny native bee was out and knew where to find the pollen and nectar!
Even though calendula is an annual, it can keep flowering even after frost and spells of pretty cold weather. It actually bounces back in the fall, after the hot heat of the summer has passed. You can see I had already spread straw over the garden to winterize it.
In the vegetable garden I found a praying mantis nest. The babies in the nest will hatch next spring. The nest was wrapped around a browned green bean vine from this past summer.
Ladybugs, lacewings, bees, and praying mantis- These little ones are a huge reason why I advocate leaving a garden just be as it is for fall and winter. It’s good to be lazy gardener at the end of the season!
This includes leaving leaves on the ground and perennials standing. All of that creates nice little cozy homes wildlife needs to hibernate. Providing habitat for these beneficial insects will create a better pest-free garden next year.