Bits and Pieces

There’s a forecast for snow tomorrow, and in this little slice of near-suburbia things are absolutely not ready.  The gardener has been in more of a Netflix mood rather than a slaving out in the elements mood and as a result things are more behind than usual.  ‘No big deal’ he says as he dips his hand in yet another vat of overly buttered popcorn, and that pretty much sums up the last few days… except for the weekend.  It was sunny yet cold, and after weeks of gloom the sun was a nice change.

ranch house landscape

Just a few more days and out with the pumpkins and in with the boughs of holly.  Fyi I’m thinking of moving the arborvitae… any thoughts on that?

In between re-acquainting myself with a rain-free garden and doing all the fall cleanup in just two days I did a little poking around and tried to find a few things of interest in an otherwise dying garden.

Polystichum polyblepharum 'Japanese Tassel Fern'

Evergreen ferns look even nicer set off by the yellowed hosta foliage.  This is the Japanese Tassel fern, Polystichum polyblepharum, and one of my favorites.  Thick brown fur covers the newly emerging fronds, and the plant as a whole is much sturdier than you might think.

There are a few last flowers, but many didn’t hold up well to the relentless rain.  The chrysanthemums are mostly washed out with the exception of a single stray seedling which snuggles up against the porch.  I tolerate its sloppiness all year and then finally reap the rewards in November when its flowers open to signal the end of the season.

late blooming chrysanthemum

My last chrysanthemum.  

Out along the street the front border got a clearing out so that the earliest spring flowers can have an open stage for whenever the first warm spell hits.  Of course that’s code for ‘I planted more snowdrops here’, but snowdrop season comes on fast and I want to be sure I’m prepared for that at least!

leaf mulch perennial bed

The interior of the bed has been cleared out and a Rolls Royce layer of leaf mulch put down.  They’re the shredded Japanese maple leaves from next door, mixed up with a good amount of lawn clippings which should be delicious for the earthworms.  

Although I did do some clearing out, the bulk of my fall cleanup is just removing anything which looks overly messy, and then running the leaves over with the mower and tossing the shreddings into select beds.  Whatever is left I can just refer to as winter interest and eventually get it come springtime.

abelmoschus seed pod

Although it was one of the first plants to go when temperatures dropped, the dead stalks of the abelmoschus still look great with their fuzzy seedpods.

Honestly if I had the opportunity I would want about double the amount of leaves that I collect each fall off the lawns.  Some would go into the compost, but most just gets thrown back as a winter blanket for empty vegetable beds and sleeping perennial plantings.  As it is I still end up volunteering to clean out my Bil’s backyard and then robbing the woods for whatever’s been dumped back there.  It’s sad how I covet my neighbor’s fallen leaves.

Lindera glauca var. salicifolia

An Asian spicebush, Lindera glauca var. salicifolia was named as my friend’s favorite shrub and I’d have to agree.  The seedlings she shared with me are finally coming along and I love the late season glow of their foliage.

It’s not all about dead leaves though.  Snowdrop talk will come up more and more now that the weather is turning cold.  This season I am eagerly awaiting the opening of my new snowdrop walk, and based on all the buzz already surrounding it I’m sure it will be an excellent new springtime adventure.

snowdrop walk

Just in case it’s not obvious the new snowdrop walk enters between the chrysanthemums and carries you across the bed.  Most people will need to crawl if they wish to avoid a cherry branch to the forehead, but you’ll be down low looking at them anyway so why bother with a whole bunch of head-room?

In the meantime, a few hardy cyclamen line the snowdrop walk.  Cyclamen hederifolium is sending up its winter foliage now and the last flowers look even better against the beautifully patterned leaves.

cyclamen hederifolium

It appears I’ve lost a few older cyclamen plants this summer, most likely due to all the rain, but there are still plenty left surviving and multiplying.

With the snowdrop walk all prepped and waiting, it’s time to turn towards the next on again off again project.

quaking aspen bark

The land beyond the fence.  Years back, before the fence went up, I used to mow around a few little quaking aspen sprouts.  They’ve grown since, and are now sporting some attractively bright bark color.  

You may remember that my MiL lives next door, and that a few years back I was able to get a bunch of fill dumped behind her house.  In the years since, I’ve managed to level and plant the half closest to her fence, but the other half still needs grading and moving.  After losing all hope of someone coming and doing the job in a day or two with all the right machinery, I’ve finally decided it will be me who digs and grades and moves all the dirt that remains.  My guess is that the rest of my life will be spent digging back here, but I already have a shovel and the dirt is free, so what have I got to lose?

grading fill

Left side graded and planted to grass, right side still to be done.  While I’m at it someone’s mentioned they’d like a screen of evergreens planted, so why not add that to the list as well….

I’ll be using the dirt to fill in some of the low spots in my own yard.  It’s terrible soil and a ridiculous amount of work but I find I can only watch Netflix for so long before boredom sets in, and I do like earthmoving projects.  S we’ll see how it goes.  Maybe I can just rename this part of the yard ‘the gym’ and spend all the saved money on other more exciting things.  Now what would that be….  snowdrops perhaps?  😉

27 comments on “Bits and Pieces

  1. Eliza Waters says:

    You have so many beautiful mums, I love the pink seedling, very pretty. My comment about arborvitae is that their mature height is 75′. I imagine they can take only so much pruning, so yours next to the walk may become a problem. There were two next to the house when we moved in and they soon outgrew their space and had to be cut down. I see homes with them clipped into tall hedges and I wonder how much that costs to trim every year. Not sure I’d think it worth the effort/cost unless it was screening a highway or industrial park.

    • bittster says:

      I think the arborvitae is a more dwarf type? Or maybe the fact I cut it into that spiral each spring keeps it smaller, but it’s been there at least 15 years, but I’ve seen what you’re talking about with the huge arborvitaes alongside a house!
      I’m not crazy about the spiral thing but in general I’m also not thrilled with the whole front of the house. I guess that’s something to ponder this winter lol.
      I have to decide soon if I’m going to trim the other arborvitaes into a tall hedge. I think not, since I’m right with you on the not worth the cost/effort thing!

  2. GREAT post as always! Things aren’t quite a colorful here as in your yard for the moment. After even a few frosts there were still a few plants that were OK. Then we had snow… TWICE followed by near 10° F temperatures for several mornings. It kind of snuck up on me and I certainly wasn’t expecting snow in November. I still haven’t cut and covered the Cannas with leaves. Now I have to wait for the snow to melt to get the leaves for mulch! I knew I should have done it before, but I just thought I still had time… You just never know… I like Netflix, too. Very hard to get away when you have to keep watching episode after episode to see what will happen next.

    • bittster says:

      Yeah, about that color…. We just got the snow here and it looks to be almost a foot. White is the only color 😉
      I got home yesterday just before it started and thought what the heck, let me try and dig the dahlias and cannas before it gets too bad. It took a little self motivating as the snow started coming down heavy, but I got enough of them out of the ground and into the garage before the neighbors started talking about crazy gardeners in the snow!

      • Very good! I know the feeling. In Mississippi my back yard was pretty much secluded where the neighbors couldn’t see me. Here, everything is out in the open and also on a fairly busy street.

  3. March Picker says:

    Your post inspired me to post after a long break! Now let’s see if all your gardening gets me going to clear up more of my own garden… I have admired your seedpods, tried to imagine a new snowdrop walk there between the mums, and squinted to picture where you will be digging soil in the land beyond for your low patches. Thank you for a great tour!

    • bittster says:

      Sometimes it takes a change of seasons nudge to get going again. I feel like I took the whole summer off, so I’m glad to see you back as well!
      Haha, yeah my snowdrop walk might be the running joke this spring 😉

  4. Pauline says:

    A snowdrop walk, now that sounds exciting! While sweeping the leaves up I discovered some snowdrop noses sticking up above the soil, it won’t be long now before we are singing their praises! You still have plenty of interest in your garden, lots more flowers than I have.

    • bittster says:

      Well there were more flowers… but now they’re buried under nearly a foot of snow. It’s far too early, but hopefully it melts off once so I can get the daffodil bulbs I dug this summer back into the ground!
      I haven’t found any snowdrop noses poking up yet, but do have a few fall-blooming snowdrops which were up and in bloom or nearly so. I do get more excited over the spring ones though. Soon! I’m looking forward to seeing how yours come up this year, they get better every season!

  5. Cathy says:

    I look forward to seeing your snowdrop walk Frank. In the meantime it still looks really pretty in your garden. The grey November weather put me off doing any gardening the last few days, but my autumn clean up sounds similar to yours… anything left will be dealt with in spring!

    • bittster says:

      Gloomy days sure do take their toll, especially when you know what comes after that. But on the plus side there’s all the magic of the holidays first, and then once it gets really cold here at least the snow seems to brighten things up… or at least that’s what I tell myself 😉

  6. Chloris says:

    All that digging and levelling, you are a glutton for punishment. I am a leaf fanatic too, at this time of the year I look in all my neighbours’ brown garden waste bins to see if they are discarding them. I remember being amazed at your beautiful chrysanthemum seedlings before, it has never happenened here but I will see if I can create my own chrysanthemum babies.
    Looking forward to seeing your snowdrop walk, no mention of your budget recently I notice. I have G. ‘Barnes’ in bloom at the moment.

    • bittster says:

      Yes, I really don’t know why I’m wasting my time with all this primitive earthmoving when I could pay to have it done in a day, but I guess I’m really that stubborn.
      Glad to hear there are a few other leaf fanatics. I keep eying the woods at the end of the street and gloating over the piles the neighbors have created. It won’t be long and I’ll sneak back there and squirrel them all away to my own garden!
      I’ve been sitting on my hands budget-wise. I double promised myself that there would be no new tulips this autumn, and since I haven’t even replanted the daffodils dug this summer I really can’t justify new ones… but if you saw my new snowdrop bed, you’d know that all this talk of budgetary abstinence is really just a smoke screen to hide other things. In a true accounting I would be too embarrassed to admit the money which has exchanged hands for snowdrops this summer.

  7. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Don’t you dare clip those weeping cherry limbs. I hate it when people trim them around evenly like they put a huge bowl on top of the tree and cut evenly around. Their trees look ridiculous. Why have a weeping tree if you just cut off the draping limbs?? Oh sorry I got on a rant… Your mums look fabulous. I can never get them to survive more than a year or two. When I see displays like yours I drool. And your cyclamen. I want that plant so bad and I haven’t found a spot that it will grow. I can’t wait to see your Galanthus plants all sprouting and blooming. All that hard work will keep you young. So get out there and sling that dirt and those leaves. Everything will look so nice. As to the Arborvitae, it probably should be moved before it gets much larger unless you just leave it until it becomes and problem and just cut it down. If you have a place for it move it by all means. Aspens, I love those trees. They don’t grow around here. Seeing these small white trunks reminds me of being in the Rockies and coming to a meadow with a clump of aspens that seemed to be under planted with a yellow flower that was blooming beautifully. The sun struck the Aspen grove with such light, it is one of those scenes that was seared into my mind. Your garden is looking ready for winter. Carry on…

    • bittster says:

      Oh thank you. I’ve seen weeping cherries butchered into obscene umbrella shapes and it’s so painful to look at, as well as pointless! I can understand trimming an unruly branch here and there, but to torture the whole tree!?
      You have to remind me next summer and I’ll collect some cyclamen seed for you. It’s so much easier (and cheaper) to just throw the seed around and let them find their own spot to settle down in. They do like a bit of a slope to keep the water off them.
      A grove of aspen is exactly what I’m hoping for back there. I think if I cut down some sumac and make a little room the aspen suckers will just come up on their own. The ones in my lawn put on about six feet of growth a year, but the ones in the woods only get a foot or so taller each year. I think if I clear a little room they’ll be much happier.
      I was thinking of getting yellow winter aconite established out back around them! I also think the yellow would be perfect 🙂

  8. Please do not say the “S” word. Snowdrops yes, but not that other white stuff. We have 11 bags of chopped leaves and I am going to start putting them down now. After last winter with no snow until it was too late, I am not taking a chance this year. Winter mulch is happening today and tomorrow. I understand about the Netflix issue. I am reading during the day as it is 10-20 below normal and I am not working outside when the high is 23! But there is still a lot of raking etc to do and it will be in the 30s today and tomorrow. Looking forward to all your posts and pix of snowdrops. Really, can one ever have too many??

    • bittster says:

      Trust me, I’m about to find out how many snowdrops are too many 🙂 … and then I’ll probably add even more!
      A high of 23 is disgusting for November. I keep thinking I should invest in better winter clothing and just continue to enjoy the outdoors, but a warm sofa isn’t all that bad either. A lot of unfinished gardening tasks can be easily forgotten when s good book and a warm blanket come together.

  9. Great match of the lindera with blue fescue. The snow has begun here and I am viewing it with a clear conscience.

    • bittster says:

      If you ever looked at the bucket of plant labels I have sitting around without plants to go with them, you’ll realize a guilty conscience is not something that bothers me much in the garden. Whatever we do out there spring will still be glorious and winter snow will cover many mistakes!
      Of course matching the grass to the lindera was absolute luck, but it does look really nice.

  10. A MiL who lives next door and lets you garden her space is worth more than rubies! You’ve still got some nice mums there.

  11. Christina says:

    A couple of years ago I bought a small pack of cheap snowdrops from the local DIY store. Last year they flowered in November and I imagined it must have been due to the very hot summer, but they’re flowering again now and our summer was cooler and much wetter so they must be some kind of ‘special’ – there I might become addicted too! You say you haven’t done much but the photos and your text actually tell a different story. Sorry to hear your winter is arriving already.

    • bittster says:

      How exciting about your snowdrops! The fall bloomers are special ones and for a while I was buying hundreds of the regular sort with the hope that one or two would come up like yours do. No such luck! I hope they do well and multiply, November is a nice time to see things enjoying the cooler weather and not minding a few cold snaps.
      I’ve barely gone outside for the last few days. I hope it warms again for a few weeks before the real cold and dark days move in here!

  12. Did you get the snow? Our area was supposed to get only about 1/2″ but Mother Nature laughed and dumped a good 3″ and then switched off the forecast rain afterward. NYC was surprised by double that amount. At least it all melted during the next two days but I was not happy with winter tapping us on the shoulder and saying “Hey! Remember me??!?” Your garden looks fantastic and I have made a note about that Lindera for my future reference…

    • bittster says:

      Yes, we sure did get the snow. What a surprise that was!
      For as big a mess as it was at least most of yours was gone within a reasonable amount of time, but like you said, we sure didn’t need that reminder just yet. I’m still hoping for an exceptionally mild December. My fingers are so crossed for it that it almost hurts 😉

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