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Old 03-05-2017, 03:19 PM   #1
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Default Do you leave the garden standing through winter?

I want to show this one picture of a plant stem where a carpenter bee (Subfamily Xylocopinae - Carpenter Bees - BugGuide.Net) has made a nest. I saw the picture and explanation posted by a member of West Cook County "Wild Ones" and asked if I could share. What a great image and reminder of what lives in a winter garden.
Here is what she said about the picture...

Quote:
Walking today and stepped on a stem which had fallen on the sidewalk, and it heard it crack. I pick it up to make sure no one was in there, and unfortunately there was--a whole line of tiny Carpenter Bees hibernating in the stem of probably a White Snakeroot. Most of them seem to be ok but one was a bit awake. Placed them at the base of a shrub with a lot of leaf litter and placed some other stems around it -not sure what else I can do. --Stephanie
More on the subject...

Before You Clean Up Plant Debris, Consider the Benefits of a Messy Yard - National Wildlife Federation

Quote:
But now some experts say leaving your planting beds intact over the winter—not being so tidy—is beneficial for your garden, because an amazing array of insects and arachnids use dead plant stems, leaf piles and other summer debris as winter homes. Some of these creatures will later keep destructive insects under control; other may help pollinate plants.
Quote:
So what critters are actually trying to bed down in your yard? Ladybugs and lacewings like to nest in the dry, sheltered crowns of native grasses, says Cheryl Long, a senior editor at Organic Gardening, while pollinating bees prefer hollow plant stems. Butterflies and moths often spend the winter in chrysalides on the ground, adds Craig Tufts, chief naturalist at the National Wildlife Federation. And baby spiders hide at the base of old stems, using them as supports for their webs come spring, when new plant growth is not sturdy enough. There are also creatures that nestle under leaves and other dead vegetation to insulate themselves from winter’s chill. “It gets kind of cold without that ‘down comforter,’ ” says Tufts, “which also provides the insects with protection from predators.”
Quote:
Lending some urgency to the situation is the recent discovery by Andrew Williams, an honorary fellow in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s entomology department. Williams discovered an average of 15 diverse animal species over wintering in the stems of various prairie plants, with one particular plant harboring an amazing 31 different species of insects. Most people garden with nonnative plants, Williams says, which cuts down on the diversity of insects likely to be present in plant stems during the winter months. Nevertheless, he says gardeners should definitely consider postponing their annual cleanups until spring.
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Old 03-05-2017, 07:38 PM   #2
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Wow! That's a cool photo. I've never seen bees wintering in a stem before. I leave everything in the back yard standing all winter. In the front, I cut back the area where we pile all of our driveway snow all winter long. I've tried leaving that standing, but it just gets smushed anyway, and it's a moldy, nasty mess in the spring.
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Old 03-07-2017, 03:19 PM   #3
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Very interesting article and photo. This sentence really caught my attention:
Quote:
Williams discovered an average of 15 diverse animal species over wintering in the stems of various prairie plants, with one particular plant harboring an amazing 31 different species of insects.
I just had to find out what that particular plant was so I looked up the study and here's what I found.

The top 10 were:
Rudbeckia laciniata (Green-headed coneflower) .. 31
Heleniurn autumnale (Sneezeweed) ...................27
Silphlum perfoliatum (Cup Plant) .......................23
Gentiana andrewsii (Bottle Gentian) ..................21
Solidago canadensis (Canadian Goldenrod) .........20
Liatris pycnostachya (Prairie Blazing Star) ..........20
Veronicastrum virginicum (Culver's Root) ............18
Pedicularis lanceolata (Marsh Betony) ...............18
Eupatoriurn perfoliatum (Boneset) ....................17
Eupatorium maculatum (Joe Pye Weed) .............17

All plant specimens were collected at Thomas Wet Prairie ... in Grant County, Wisconsin.

The complete study is at this link:
Ecology and Natural Resources: Proceedings of the Sixteenth North American Prairie Conference: Fauna overwintering in or on stems of Wisconsin prairie forbs
The formatting did not hold up in my browser view so I downloaded the pdf file from the link on the same page.
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Old 03-07-2017, 07:14 PM   #4
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pawprint YOu have heard of 'little blue stem' well I have 'little brown stem'~~~

I generally leave lots of stuff standing till spring, for my own ID purposes. Have you ever tried to find those fancy ferns ya transplanted last year...without the old dry stems to show the way? And sometimes, oft times some plants are not annuals at all, but perennial, and finding those wonderful roots can be lots of fun.

I was just noticing today for example, as I was out looking for spring voluteers to transplant, and there...was solidagio odorus, I could tell by the stem & the dry flower, another example spearmint, coming up new little purplish leaves just at the base of last years big brown stems. If I had mowed all that down last fall, it would be difficult to tell which plant is good, & which is just another weed!! Sometimes I don't want to wait till spring has sprung, to move stuff around, transplanting can stunt the plant a bit when it has already sprung out of it's dormancy state, I try to get mine early early when it be possible.

And sometimes, when we get lucky, seed upon last years stem still remains till spring, why bring it in the house & label it, when it out there on the old stem replete with nature's dormancy already built-in. Of course, it is a little painful when there is not a seed left, but then that is just the way it goes sometimes.

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Old 03-09-2017, 04:38 PM   #5
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Awesome photo!

Yes, I leave things standing.
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Old 03-09-2017, 08:51 PM   #6
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I leave everything standing in the walled garden and all the grasses and seedheads in front, at least until the daffodils are in full bloom. At that point, the stems get piled in a hidden corner of the walled garden.
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Old 03-09-2017, 09:34 PM   #7
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Good point, come spring, I usually do some cleanup in certain areas--usually, I break things off at the base, and add them to the brush pile.
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Old 03-13-2017, 11:16 AM   #8
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Some I leave standing, some not. Depends upon how close in proximity to one another they are as I try to keep mildew free.

I tried moving a couple different colors of the Marsh Betony one year but it didn't take.
Is that by chance one that depends upon another species nearby for its survival or is soil specific?
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Old 03-13-2017, 02:55 PM   #9
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It doesn't depend on another species, but it does need a wet soil.
Online Virtual Flora of Wisconsin - Pedicularis lanceolata
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Old 03-13-2017, 07:29 PM   #10
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Ahhhhh but I also noticed it does say it's partially parasitic in the link.
I had planted them into one of the hugelkultur beds which does hold the moisture quite well.
Hmmmmm Wonder what upon it's parasitic?
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