Happy Halloween!

Surprise of surprises the month of October has passed and there still remains a general air of pleasantness and overall contentment with the autumn season.  Even as the wind and rain buffet trick-or-treaters, the gardener has yet to mention death, gloom or futility, in spite of light frosts and dropping leaves and various ghouls and other undead wandering the neighborhood.

autumn garden color

Fall color seems especially bright this year.  The view towards the tropical garden doesn’t really seem all that tropical anymore but it’s not bad at all in my opinion.

To be honest I’m not 100% sure a ghoul qualifies as undead but I am sure that the garden still has plenty of life in it.  Last weekend was excellent weather for outdoor labor and even this gardener got a few things done.  Mulching was probably the most rewarding job and being that I love mulching, and free mulch is even better, it was almost a struggle to wait until a respectable 9am before making the first run to the town’s free mulch pile.

hellebore garden

The new hellebore garden is finally fit to show.  Stepping stones have been leveled, mulch spread, and now all that’s missing is a nice blanket of leaves on top.  Nature will oblige I’m sure.

Free mulch around here isn’t the fanciest thing, but I’m still thrilled my friend Paula inspired me to go looking for it again.  I can head out, fill a couple buckets and an old trash can, and pull back into the garage in eleven minutes flat, which isn’t all that unreasonable and compares very favorably to the time I would have been sitting around “resting” anyway.  In all I made four runs, which quickly adds up to forty minutes, but since two of the trips included picking up or dropping off children I still think I’m not doing too bad.

autumn garden color

Orange is the color of the week.  Tonight’s wind and this weekend’s frost will change the picture but for now I love it.

Besides mulching and mowing, a few other things were checked off of the to-do list.  Stage one of tender plant triage includes cuttings of the most cool-weather sensitive things such as coleus, and that was completed a couple weeks ago.  Stage two is dragging all tender potted things closer to the garage and off the deck.  Stage three will be the end to procrastination, and means dragging them all in when frost threatens (Friday night), and then Stage four will be all the hardier things such as potted geraniums and rosemary which can handle a frost, but resent a freeze.  It’s kind of late for a hard frost this year, so I’ve been enjoying a nice drawn out process where things are a little less hectic, and a lot more organized.

tatarian aster jindai

Some late season blooms on the Tatarian aster ‘Jindai’.  A delay in a hard freeze means this slowpoke has had enough time to put on a nice show this year.

A beautiful fall, a relaxed pace in the garden, projects getting done.  It all still seems so remarkably positive that I almost hesitate to bring up a dark cloud, but it’s there nonetheless.  Deer have made my garden a regular stop on their nightly forays.  It’s not unusual for them to come through as they grow restless in the autumn, but this year they really seem to like what they’ve found.  The little piles of ‘pellets’ seem to tell me they’re spending quite some time here at night and the stripped leaves and beheaded chrysanthemums tell me what they’ve been doing.

autumn salvia

I love this tender salvia which went in as part of the autumn upgrade to these containers, but I also loved the purple oxalis that used to fill the front.  Stems are all that remain.

This gardener hopes they move on during the winter.  Maybe the colchicum flowers they ate will upset their tummies enough to make them wander off to greener pastures, or maybe the cyclamen flowers left a bad taste in their mouth… but I really suspect they just liked adding a bit of exotic flavor to the diet.  In any case you can probably guess who has been encouraging the neighborhood hunters to shoot local this year…

berm planting

There’s been some activity on the berm.  A close close look may reveal the small green sprays of new ‘Green Giant’ arborvitae as well as a few other tiny things.  In about 15 years maybe I’ll post another picture to see if it’s amounted to anything.

Don’t let a few deer nibbles give off the wrong impression.  It’s still a remarkable autumn and I’m quite pleased with the progress and with the garden… even if the days are becoming rudely short and time outside is becoming annoyingly limited.  With that in mind I’ll leave you with something exceptionally positive.

galanthus tilebarn jamie

The first snowdrops are up.  The fall blooming Galanthus reginae-olgae ‘Tilebarn Jamie’ looks fantastic amongst the autumn leaves, and it’s just one of a few which are in bloom this week.

The first of the little snowdrop treasures are too precious to run the risk of facing the elements outdoors, so of course they’ll have to face the risks of a fickle gardener indoors and hopefully that works out well.  A few fall and winter bloomers did survive outside last year but not enough to give me the confidence to gamble with these, so in another two or three weeks these will also migrate to the winter garden alongside other plants too special to give up.  I’m sure I’ll enjoy the company while we wait for the garden to thaw out again 🙂

20 comments on “Happy Halloween!

  1. March Picker says:

    Your autumn looks lovely! Even the fallen leaves cooperated to enhance that last shot of early snowdrops.

    • bittster says:

      Thanks! We’ve been very lucky this fall, with cool nights and a gentle, drawn out temperature change. The other shoe is dropping next weekend though, and I’m already doing a mental tally of all the things in need of doing before then!

  2. We had snow on the 30th. Almost all gone already, though.

    • bittster says:

      I swear you had your first frost on the 29th! That seems way too early to go straight to the white stuff, but right now they have 1-3 predicted here for Friday so I may be joining you.

      • Actually, our first “F” was October 11 and the first “S” was on the 30th. Actually, maybe the evning of the 29th. It came and went thank goodness! I am ready for spring already.

  3. Chloris says:

    Your Autumn garden looks fabulous, so I can see why you are pleased. Only a real gardener could get excited by the idea of collecting free mulch. Always exciting to catch sight of your first snowdrop. I find reginae- olgae clumps up quite well in the garden whereas Barnes disappears never to be seen aagain.

    • bittster says:

      I feel silly dirtying up my car with buckets of someone else’s garden waste, but it looks so rich and dark once it’s down. It’s a little addicting.
      I just caught sight of Barnes nosing his way up through the soil this week. Perhaps I can be lucky with him, he looked smaller last year (his first) and didn’t produce a bloom. I do have better luck with elwesii here. Maybe there was some hope to all my finger crossing. Reginae-olgae might be a different story here, friends are trying to convince me to try her kind in the open garden but our winters are still so much worse.

  4. Really? Deer ate colchicum flowers? You’re rocking my world.

  5. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    You sound so content. This is a good place to be at this time of year. I hate that deer are drawn to your garden. I am afraid that your contentment will be short lived. I would be delighted with free mulch or compost. None around my world. I have to make my own or purchase such.
    Awww those sweet little Galanthus. How nice that you have some blooming. My colchicums came up this past spring but haven’t put in an appearance yet. I would say they aren’t going to now. We have had a freezing frost and due for more tonight. Everything is beginning to look like black mush.
    As it should be this time of year I guess. I just hate to say goodbye.
    I imagine Halloween is quite lively around your house since you still have children at home. Happy Days…

    • bittster says:

      I was loving autumn until today’s cold wind blew in. That warm sun in October spoiled me for sure!
      Apparently 13 is when boys in this house lose interest in trick or treating. 11 year old girls still love it but 13 may be a different story for her as well 😦
      You may be surprised to find compost somewhere around your town. Many towns around here will collect the yard waste and then need to get rid of the compost they make from it. I hope it holds up though, because in the past week I’m pretty sure I have been the only person who’s taken anything from the pile, and if no one is using it, I may lose it…
      Hmmm. I still have to plant some colchicums which I bought and then allowed to bloom in a deck pot. They were mislabeled and now I have even more plain pink than I want. I may need to box them up and send them to someone! lol

  6. Eliza Waters says:

    It has been a luxuriously long spate of warm weather this fall. Like you, tonight will be our first hard frost. A few light ones ended most of the annuals weeks ago, but it is so unusual to have such a late killing frost in MA.
    I’m envious of your convenient supply of free mulch. Trucking here makes it so expensive, I have to make do with what I can scrounge from the property, mostly leaves.
    Enjoy your galanthus – they are a cheerful reminder that spring is out there awaiting us in the future.

    • bittster says:

      If I had woods nearby I would be very tempted to run the mower down a few paths and steal some leaf mulch from mother nature. I like the town compost, but chopped leaves are one of the best things I use here, and I never have enough of my own.
      I did a garden trek to the NY botanical garden this weekend to see the mums. It reminded me to ask if you’re planning on visiting the Smith College display this year. The ones I saw in NY were nice enough but your pictures from Smith are always outstanding!

  7. Everything looks lovely and how nice to be able to enjoy the garden and do things at your own pace. We’ve had a pretty good autumn until this week when we got over 9 inches of snow in two storms. My rosemary is in a pot on the deck covered in snow. Broke a record from 1917 but I would rather not have done it. Have not really done any garden clean up as everything was looking great last weekend and I did not believe the weather warnings.

    • bittster says:

      The cold weather has made its way to Pennsylvania and so much for enjoying autumn at my own pace! I may still be able to clean a few more leaves up, but for now the ground is locked up and it’s time to put away dug summer bulbs and organize tender plants inside… they need it, my winter garden is an overflowing disaster.
      Not sure how I feel about you getting all that snow. I wonder if it’s going to be a snowy winter or one of those on again off again rollercoasters with too much ice and then too long warm spells.

  8. Cathy says:

    That photo with the orange canna is gorgeous. And your view with the ‘berm’ has improved dramatically since you first showed the development built behind it. It is great to hear you are enjoying your autumn and have had the weather to do so. It has been rather drab here, with a little less autumn colour than usual. Shame about the Chrysanths being eaten by the deer. Your oxalis will no doubt recover… mine was nibbled at constantly by hares in the spring, but is still alive! Hope November is as kind as October was!

    • bittster says:

      ha! I loved that photo with the orange cannas as well, but when asked, someone who shares this house could only say ‘that’s a lot of orange’. I’m hoping our children inherit my sense of taste 😉
      Having the oxalis nibbled completely was a relief in that I only had a little bit of regret when I left them out to freeze. There are already three full pots indoors, and I suspect that is already enough to fill the garden with them next year!

  9. Your garden is looking good! I haven’t done any mulching so far, actually I don’t most years. I did manage to dig the Caladium tubers out of their pots, some of them anyway, before they rotted away.

    • bittster says:

      I’ve only mulched the new beds because of the guilt I feel over poor soil prep. It looks so nice with a dark coating of compost and you wouldn’t suspect the rooty, thin, clay underneath.
      My new theory on fall cleanup involves dumping anything out of the lawnmower bag right back onto the flower beds. Maybe in the spring I’ll rake it out and give the old stalks a weed-wack, the only obstacle to this are the ornamental grasses and some of the sturdiest stalks. We’ll see about those.

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