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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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 🙂