Wildlife Gardening

Much cuter but not a lot smaller than a black cat, a chipmunk crossed my path a few mornings ago as I was about to descend my back stairs. I was impressed with its size, as it appeared to be about 8 inches long. It scampered away and hid from me. That little rodent is probably getting ready for winter.

An article from the Humane Society of the United States relates gardening and yard work to the winter welfare of local wildlife. The suggestions include keeping dead flowers on the plants, and letting leaves on the ground among others.

Here's one excerpt from the article:

Put yourself in an animal's position: Just when the going gets tough, potential winter food and cover sources are removed, leaving a bleak and uninviting landscape in which to survive the cold months.

Experience and some thought-through modifications of these suggestions are possible if you find dead plant matter intolerably unsightly or a nuisance. Here are a couple of my ideas:

*Make sure your compost materials are available to wildlife, not in a closed-in bin.
*Dead flower heads, petals, vines, dry corn husks, and so on have been made into attractive rustic-looking "sculptures" such as wreaths, swags, and other fall decorations. If placed outside, preferably where there is not frequent human activity to scare them away, wildlife can get to it. This means it won't disintegrate indoors leaving a mess and irritating allergies.

There's another article on the site on building and maintaining brush piles.

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