I promise this is the last time I will complain about the brutal freeze which ended our growing season. I’ll also not mention the weeks of warm weather which followed, and I won’t show a picture of the dahlias which are resprouting due to some misguided notion that winter came and went. Instead I’ll focus on the mellow colors of autumn which are slowly winding the year down, and I’ll just enjoy the warm lull we’ve been having until winter returns again in earnest.
Last weekend I finished up the last of the leaves and tried to wrap up the last of the fall planting and weeding. I have to admit I like the way the gardens open up and empty out this time of year, and I love the way the fall rains have left a lush green lawn to set off the emptying flower beds.
Three years after transplanting, my pink muhly grass has finally bothered to bloom. I’ve come to accept that I’m just too far North to enjoy this plant. It looked pathetic until August, finally put out enough leaves to look alive by September, and then for 12 days in October it impressed with it’s pink seedheads…. and then was promptly browned out by the first freeze. The effect is still nice enough, but I wouldn’t have minded a few more weeks of the pink.
I’m going to give the cultivar ‘Fast Forward’ a try next year. It’s supposed to be a good month or so earlier than the straight species and also shorter and more compact… although for me the larger size would have been preferable. I’ve actually already got my hands on one but since it was a small plant and just planted last week I’m not too confident it will make it through the winter. Fall is not the time to plant anything borderline hardy or more of a warm season grower…. speaking of probably not making it through the winter, my cardoon seedling is really starting to put out some nice leaves. The freeze didn’t bother it, but as a zone 7 plant I’m really hoping for some serious El Nino luck in getting this thing through the winter. Any protection suggestions are more than welcome!
Something which will have no problems this winter is the Virginia creeper. This year brought on a good crop of the grape-like fruits, and I’m sure they’ll be sprouting up all over as a gift from the birds…. just like this plant was.
The rest of the garden is clearing out. Leaves are mulched, the vegetable garden is tucked in, and there’s already interest in spring flowers. I love how good hellebores look at this time of year, they love the cool temperatures and extra moisture and if all goes well this spring I may have my best hellebore show yet.
Back towards the meadow garden things are just waiting for snow. I’m glad I left a bunch of the little bluestem since it’s gone through such a nice color change from green to yellows to reds to tans now. With the rest of the yard mowed, it keeps things somewhat interesting back there. Something I’m not too glad I left is the littleleaf linden (Tilia cordata) seedling which showed up among the phlox. I’ve been ignoring it for years, but at six feet I think it’s time to make a decision. The mother plant is so popular with the bees and so fragrant I just hate to weed it out…. but a second linden is one more than this yard needs.
There’s little chance of dealing with the linden this fall. It would do fine with a transplant at this time of year, but with 14 pounds of crocus and daffodils sitting in the living room I have other things calling for my attention. I should have no problem getting a few in tomorrow… unless I first deal with the dozens of daffodils and tulips which I already had from this summer’s bed renovation.
Whoever said November was a time for gardeners to kick back and relax obviously didn’t procrastinate planting spring bulbs nor succumb to early clearance sales. Hopefully your autumn is much more relaxing 🙂