Sunday, January 3, 2016

Reasons to do nothing

There's a strong temptation to tidy up the garden in autumn, cutting down old flower stems and raking up all the leaves, but there are rewards for doing nothing. 

One is that seed heads provide food for garden birds in autumn.

Another is that dead leaves and flowers can be incredibly beautiful after their soft tissues have rotted away, leaving only the veins that conducted water and sugars through them when they were alive. Our recent wet, mild autumn and winter have been particularly good at revealing these botanical skeletons.

These are the exquisitely skeletonised bracts of an Astrantia flower, that I spotted in our garden today.

Giant bellflower seed capsules

Two skeleton leaves

The seed capsule and bracts of henbane

Flower bracts of Hydrangea


  1. I have seen these but never looked at them. I can feel a macro moment coming on.

    1. Old holly trees and holly hedges often have some fine skeleton leaves underneath them ......

  2. Neat! thanks for posting. I will notice these more now, I'm sure.

  3. I've got another good reason for not tidying up the garden in autumn, Phil, and that's sheer laziness! I've tended to use the excuse that leaving the leaves and debris around acts as a bit of a mulch and help protect the plants and provides shelter for wildlife, but you've now given me an even better excuse. I'll be wandering round my garden now with different eyes.

    All the best for 2016 - - Richard

    1. Truth be told, Richard, laziness is one of my underlying motives. All the best for the coming year - spring not far off now!


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