Tuesday View: The Front Border 10.31.17

Happy Halloween!  In between trick-or-treaters and going out with the kids there’s still enough time today to join Cathy at Word and Herbs and celebrate one of the last Tuesday views of the 2017 season.  We dodged our potential frost last night, so I guess today’s view would count as a treat 😉

front border

The low autumn light smooths out a lot of the wrinkles and age spots of this elderly border.  A good rain sure didn’t hurt either!

Part of me wants to get to tidying up the border, but logical sense tells me to wait a few more weeks.  Right now everything is still solid and wet and a lot bulkier than it will be after a good freeze or two, so waiting a bit will make the work much easier.  Plus it still looks decent, especially since the haggard and rough looking sunflowers were cut down and hauled off.


The perennials are drying up but the non-hardy canna and cardoon are still full of life!

In the end it shouldn’t be all that much work.  I’ll dig a few canna roots, cut down a few frosted annuals, and chop down the messiest of the grasses.  The rest will stay as “winter interest”, partly because it really is more interesting than bare ground in December, but also because that gives it all winter to fall apart (and hopefully blow away into someone else’s yard or the woods!)

front border

Not bad for the last day of October, trust me it usually doesn’t look this nice.

There are only a few other plants which look interesting in the close-up.  Hydrangea ‘Limelight’ has never been this pink before, I think it’s thanks to the steady rains which kept it hydrated all summer.  We did get three weeks of hot and dry, which browned the south side of the each panicle, but overall they’re still attractive.

autumn limelight hydrangea

Drought and heat-stressed brown is the normal fall color for these, I’ve got to say I much prefer the pink!

The muhly grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) is also finishing the year off in pink.  A normal year has frost bleaching the color just as it begins to flower, but for the second year in a row we’re in luck.  Like most grasses it’s the perfect thing to have backlit with some nice, soft, autumn light, but on the other hand a smarter gardener would have already found something equally as fluffy which is a little better suited to growing in this northern garden.

muhly grass

Pink muhly grass with just a little backlighting.  

So that’s where we are as we step over into November.  The summer annuals have all thrown in the towel but there’s still enough left to keep things interesting for a few more days.  Bulbs will be the last question of the year.  Right now I say no, but clearance sales have a way of twisting my arm and you never know.  In the meantime have a great week!

21 comments on “Tuesday View: The Front Border 10.31.17

  1. Wow, you have Pink Muhly grass? I didn’t think it would survive up here. It’s pink fluffiness is right up my alley! Your border still looks great! We’ve had two very light frosts–enough to scrape off the windshield, but not enough to kill off the annuals! Still have marigolds, cleome, and tithonia blooming. And containers of impatiens, too, which I’m frankly tired of watering!!! I think tonight may really be the end of them, though, with a forecast of 28 overnight. I did not order a single bulb this year, and I know I will regret that next spring. I suppose it’s not too late–the ground’s not frozen yet! Happy Halloween!!!

    • bittster says:

      I like the pink Muhly and it really has been completely hardy, but it blooms so late. The year before last I added ‘Fast forward’ which is supposed to be an earlier cultivar, but neglect and crowding have it barely surviving and a possible winter casualty.
      I’m almost hoping for a frost. I’d have to rush around with bringing in the last pots, but to have autumn over and done with will almost be a relief… even if it does mean 5 months of cold and snow.

  2. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Your border looks good for this time of year. I am impressed. We had a hard frost last night. Annuals are toast. That Pink Muhly is a beauty.

    • bittster says:

      I thought for sure we’d be following behind you in the frost department but outside of a little white on the rooftops, nothing. I’m sure it’s close though, and then the cleanup goes full force lol

  3. Cathy says:

    Your border is still looking wonderful Frank. And it doesn’t have that tired and messy look mine has at this time of year! Love that cardoon and the canna together. About a week ago I was itching to get tidied up but there was still so much to look at. This week with our cold spell and the first frosty night I am much more relaxed… it can wait till we have a nice warm sunny day now!

    • bittster says:

      Trust me, I have plenty of tired and messy going on, it’s just the angle 😉 -and as for the rest of the garden…
      The first frost does kind of come as a relief once you’re ready for it. It’s the excuse you need to finally put some of the most awkward plants out of their misery and clean up a few others. I’m often surprised by how little it takes to neaten things up, assuming you’re ok with leaving a few of the sturdier things until winter.

  4. Peter/Outlaw says:

    Looks great and that Pink Muhly is a show stopper! Really? No bulbs? No snowdrop additions? Who are you and what have you done with Frank?

    • bittster says:

      Hmm. You see right through me. My theory is that if you order snowdrops and receive them in the summer… and they’re planted before September, then they don’t count as a fall bulb order. That’s the story I’m sticking with.
      I was looking at a few tulip pictures and feel a little stupid about not adding more yet. It’s so easy and they’re so foolproof. Parrot tulips sound nice this year.

  5. Tim Calkins says:

    you do a nice job with plant structure and placement, something I struggle with, as I cram more and more things in.

    • bittster says:

      🙂 I find that as you cram more and more in it all kind of works out. I heartily recommend you continue with your method and keep the eraser nearby. I sometimes call my eraser a saw.
      Leaving enough space for everything is boring and better suited to mulch-lovers.

  6. The Pink Muhly Grass is fantastic! As for me, I gave up tidying the garden weeks ago. I likely won’t touch it again until the snow melts. Of course, I don’t have any tender plants to bring inside.

    • bittster says:

      My mower does most of the fall cleanup. It’s been known to run up into perennial beds and take care of just about everything that might be a little too messy for winter. Better to not overthink things in November.

  7. Cathy says:

    It looks ABSOLUTEL\y wonderful Frank – especially that Muly grass. You have a way with shape and colour that is enviable. And I don’t think I’ve ever virtually visited your garden at this time of year before (too interested in the lovely things you do earlier on!) Thanks so much for sharing your lovely borders.

    • bittster says:

      Thanks Cathy, that’s very nice of you to say.
      I’m glad to see you posting again, I’ve missed your updates and was amazed by how much things have grown. I hope the house continues to come along as well, and most of all I hope your sewer woes have taken a turn for the better!

  8. hb says:

    Still looks very pretty even though summer is now past. The cardoon foliage is gorgeous. I must also complement you on a beautiful lawn. I don’t even have one–just not appropriate in my climate, but I admire them!

    • bittster says:

      Thanks h Boo! I think the cardoon is the plant I miss the most now that it’s been frozen. I’m seriously considering digging up the root and trying to overwinter it… but I think I know how that will end up.
      This has been an excellent grass year with steady rain all summer. Mowing has been a struggle, but considering I do little else on it I’m quite pleased with the green this year!

  9. Ian Lumsden says:

    That pink grass is eye-catching. The late autumn (fall) border looks good to my eyes. It’s always a decision when to clear out, prepare for winter, and plant for spring.

    • bittster says:

      I did clear out a few patches last week to ready them for snowdrops and eranthis. Spring can come quickly here and I want to be somewhat ready even if it means actually doing a little work 🙂

  10. Annette says:

    Trust me, it does not only look nice, it looks awesome, Frank, and no doubt your neighbours are falling over their feet when they walk past your garden as it seems the only decently planted in the area. I always here rain, would you mind sending some, please 🙂 The hydrangea looks very happy, must be due to all the rain. When did you plant your pink muhly grass? Such a strong clump, think it takes a few years to get it to perform? One of my favourites. Have a good weekend x

    • bittster says:

      Hi Annette! I hope a decent rain has come your way by now, a dry fall is no way to finish up the year. -and don’t you worry about me gloating again next year about such a fine and rainy year, I’m sure we will return to our typically humid and droughty weather in 2018 😉
      The muhly grass has been there for at least four years, and you’re right that it took a while to settle in. I used to have three in that spot and (gulp!) composted the other two when I got tired of waiting for them to perform. I had divided a clump a few years prior and they were taking soooo long to recover, although my colder climate might have something to do with that as well.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

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