There are three reasons why this is a good idea: first, it helps protect the crown of a plant from frost (after all, it’s what happens in nature). Second, it leaves seed heads for birds to pick through (the 2006 wildaboutgardens survey showed that gardens with seeds and nuts were three times as likely to attract goldfinches). Third, leaving dead stems uncut until early spring creates overwintering homes for beneficial garden creatures such as lacewings and ladybirds. That way you have a healthy ‘starter’ population the following spring.

If you can find the space, it’s tremendously helpful to leave an unkempt ‘wild’ area in the garden. It’s an all-too-rare garden habitat, and one that benefits many shy animals.