Go SLOW on Garden Clean-up

by Linda Zielinski

posted April 3, 2023

Transition Fidalgo is delighted to welcome Linda Zielinski to our garden blog. Over the years, Linda has made her mark on our community by generously sharing her expertise in gardening, raising chickens, and ukulele strumming. Now she’s putting her energy and enthusiasm into the role of  “ambassador” for our oh-so-important pollinators. Thank you, Linda!

The Buzz from Linda ZZZielinski: Go Slow on Garden Clean-up














Our Skagit County native pollinators are just beginning to show up from their overwintering nesting sites! You already know that butterflies, bees, and many other insects are in sharp decline; probably you’ve noticed this in your own yard or at city parks. We humans can really help get some balance back in our environment by holding off on garden clean-up until May. That messy garden looks awfully good if you love the habitat it creates for insects, for the flowers that need pollinating, and for the birds who feed insects to their young broods. It’s such good news that we otherwise hard-working gardeners can lay off on yard clean-up until after the fruit tree blooms are finished. We can instead spend March/April planting seeds and starts, and wait until light-jacket-and-baseball-hat weather in May to clean up, after our pollinators’ new babies develop into adult bees, butterflies, and other insects that are part of our biodiversity. How many times in the past have I disturbed a queen bumblebee from her over-winter hibernation? Never again, say I! Here’s an enjoyable, educational read if you want to keep pollinator habitat in your yard by knowing when to “clean up”: https://xerces.org/blog/dont-spring-into-garden-cleanup-too-soon.

So think about turning your yard/farm/big ol’ flowerpot on your balcony into a wildlife refuge for pollinators! I’ve recently been “hired” as a volunteer for the Xerces Society, a 50-year-old science-based non-profit that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates (such as bees, butterflies, and other species of pollinators) and their habitats. The specialists and scientists at Xerces are hard at work conferring and forming partnerships with agriculturists, entomologists, government agencies, companies such as Whole Foods and Dannon, foresters, and even land managers such as at the Portland International Airport, schoolkids, and property owners big and small (including townhouse/apartment dwellers with balconies and big flower pots!) 

Over 50 folks around the country were accepted as new “ambassadors” for Xerces late last fall, including myself (now one of three Western Washington volunteers). I’m just learning my new craft, and it’s a very re-energizing experience for my aging brain! On this blog, I hope to share with you some of the Xerces YouTubes, articles, and events, many of which you’ll be able to join from Transition Fidalgo’s site. Or, consider going straight to xerces.org to dig through the volumes of readable and downloadable info.

I’ll be volunteering at tabling at events regarding pollinators and their habitats, and the threats these keystone animals face. Please let me know if I can be of service to you or your group!

2 thoughts on “Go SLOW on Garden Clean-up

  1. Jan+Hersey

    Linda, flower SOS! Now that I’m gaining confidence about the timing of planting veggies, I’m ready to move into flowers that will help feed the pollinators in the garden. I’d love help learning which flowers are best to plant and when and how to sow them.
    I’m so happy to see you taking on this Xerses roll and your guidance ending up right here in my garden blog inbox. Your enthusiasm for whatever you undertake is contagious!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.