STOP!!!! Don't "clean" that garden up

It's fall: bonfires, pumpkin-spiced everything, and hooded sweatshirts abound. You can finally walk around outside and not be eaten alive by mosquitoes. Traditional gardeners are cleaning out their garden beds, chopping stems and raking leaves. Makes me want to scream: STOP IT DON'T DO IT. Here's why:

1. FOOD: Birds are eating the ripening seeds. Ever seen a goldfinch balancing on prairie plant seed heads? Not only is it really cool to watch, but those seeds are providing a valuable food source. The seeds will continue to provide food for birds and mammals throughout the winter, both on the plant itself as well as fallen on the ground.
Goldfinch on echinacea seedhead

2. SHELTER: So many species of insects will overwinter in and around the dormant plants, from the top layer of soil to the leaf litter to the stems themselves. Don't cut that stem down, a mason bee could be sheltering inside! Leave your leaf litter, there could be overwintering larvae, like the ever-popular woolly bear caterpillars!

Mason bees nest in plant stems, as well as overwinter in the adult form

So step back and enjoy the beauty of your native plantings, and feel good knowing that you're providing valuable habitat for the harsh upcoming winter!

REMINDER: TLC's Seed Sharing Day is Saturday, 10/22 from 10am-2pm!
RSVP to or call 815-337-9502

Want to collect native seed for your prairie or savanna restoration? This is the event for you!

Where: Rural Alden/Harvard area (you will be notified of location once you've RSVP'd)

  • 10am: Everyone checks in and is sent to a nearby privately owned property to collect seed. Not sure how? No problem! We'll help you out.
  • 12pm: Regroup at central gathering place for more pre-collected seed to add to our mix
  • Potluck time! Followed by a Q&A discussion to share our experiences
Conservation@Home Featured Property: Pat Sullivan-Schroyer

Meet Pat Sullivan-Schroyer, who lives on a 0.875-acre Conservation@Home certified property in McHenry. When she first bought the property in 1989, the only native wildflower present was mayapple. Thanks to her consistent hard work and removal of invasive species, there are now over 200 native species found on her property! She enjoys sharing native plants and knowledge with others and working with the Wildflower Propagation and Preservation Committee. Her advice to others just starting out is to start small, but definitely start! Visit restored natural areas, ask for help, and involve children if you have them, because, "It is for them and all those who come after that we do this." You're an inspiration, Pat!

Remember that you can encourage homeowners, businesses, and other community groups to use the Conservation@Home ideas on their property, big or small. TLC is happy to offer presentations on C@H and many other environmental topics. Call 815-337-9502 or email Sarah Michehl at . As the season progresses, email us updated pictures of your environmental features!

The Land Conservancy of McHenry County | | 
815-337-9502 |
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