Heading into the Holidays

If pushed I think some people would consider it to be early winter around here, but with my newfound ‘fondness’ for the autumn season I’m going to consider it late fall.  Normally even a hard frost is enough to declare the onset of winter, but as of 5:45 pm today I’m still thinking fall is an ok season and not the usual dark, wallowing in self pity, miserable, death to all growing things, slightly depressing time of year that it normal goes by.

fall garden cleanup

The wild enthusiasm of the potager has once again been tamed by cold, and a good portion of the shredded leaves have gone to mulching the cleared out beds.

Even with a good number of chilly mornings and cold nights, there’s still been a lot of gardening going on… well a lot considering how short the days are and how often an employer expects you to be at work each week… the potager took quite some time to rip up tree-like annuals, dig forgotten potatoes, and do all the put-away stuff that growing vegetables requires.  We all know that the amount of vegetables here really isn’t an excuse to make a full workload, but I did plant half a bed of garlic this fall and finally put the diseased, frozen tomato vines out of their misery so that’s kind of legitimate.  Less legitimate are how many beds were then planted with tulips.  They did well last year and I thought I threw away a good amount of smaller bulbs, but I also know I have a weak spot for tulips so if it looked big enough to bloom who am I to deny a plant its destiny?

planting fall bulbs

Only a few tulips were purchased but apparently a few daffodils were purchased as well.  As far as I can recall they were not purchased by myself, so I’m not sure how they got here, but they’re here now so I suppose I should plant them.

I gave away a bunch of daffodils two summers ago, so based on that and the promise to give away even more this summer, I allowed a few new ones to be purchased.  Only about a dozen, and I swear they were interesting things which sell by the single bulb and never (or only a few times) did I ask for multiple bulbs.  Surely you can imagine my disgust when months later a heavy box shows up, filled with bags of three or more bulbs each plus multiple bags of free bulbs.  Unconscionable.  Then a second box shows up.  Ugh.  Those bulbs were so big I was downright intimidated, and of course I never cleared out the spots where these new goodies were supposed to go.  Nearly 100 new bulbs to plant when I was figuring only maybe two dozen, and then inspiration struck.  A sand bed where you only put summer pots can easily take in a few spring bulbs, and they’ll practically disappear by July especially if you plant them along the far edge.  It’s brilliant if you ask me and it almost makes me regret not ordering more.  What if I really did dig up the overcrowded ones?  I shudder to think about the potential gaps in the spring bulb garden which may have been.

galanthus barnes

The fall blooming Galanthus elwesii ‘Barnes’ seems to be doing well in spite of the beating its foliage takes once winter settles in.  Two years ago it was moved around to the East side of the house and he appears to like the spot.   

Ok so there’s a snowdrop photo.  To be honest I’m not always as thrilled to see snowdrops in the fall as I am in spring, so on a scale of 1 to 10 this might only register an 8.5, but considering the historical average of November hovers in the 2 range that’s pretty friggin exciting.  Maybe I need to compliment these fall drops with some late cyclamen, that would probably boost the thrill-meter to 9.0, or come up with another road trip idea.  Word is Nancy Goodwin is opening Montrose Gardens this Sunday for tours of her nearly famous fall snowdrop walk, and the idea of seeing rivers of thousands of snowdrops in full bloom is enough to have me mapping the eight hour drive South to Hillsborough North Carolina.  That’s crazy though.  I’d have to turn off my cell phone tracking and lie about my destination and I suspect that’s a bad sign when you start lying about your plant addictions.  Definitely bad, so no.  And I’m not even considering it any more…. Not at all…

So look at that, I just cancelled a 986 mile round trip drive to go look at snowdrops, and to distract myself from actually taking the trip anyway I’m going to calculate fuel costs.  Giddy-up I just saved $144, plus at least another 20 dollars in tolls and suddenly I have $164 that I can spend elsewhere.  Genius, and when I spend it at a small business that happens to sell snowdrops, I’m also supporting the local economy and am practically a social engineer.

Amazing.  I hope your week is starting off just as productively 😉

20 comments on “Heading into the Holidays

  1. At first I thought I missed another daffodil giveaway but as I read further I see it was theoretical and not actual, which is why the unanticipated bulbs are going in the sand bed, which is where I thought the caladiums spent the summer. Are all those bulbs in the sand bed destined for relocation? I still have some bulbs I dug up in summer that need to be replanted, but finally faced reality and gave up my plan of getting everything in pots planted. The potted plants are now stacked in the most sheltered corner of the house and hopefully I’ll cover them with leaves before snow accumulates. (Notice I didn’t say “before snow falls”. It has fallen already, it just hasn’t stuck around. It’s only a matter of time.)

    • Kathy, I have a few potted heucheras that never made it into the ground too. I was wondering what to do with them, and your comment just made me think of one particular corner that’s somewhat sheltered. So thank you for that!

    • bittster says:

      Um yeah… the bulbs in the sand bed are absolutely destined to go elsewhere… some day… and who knows where….
      They really shouldn’t stay in a sand ‘terrace’ unless the gardener really gives up and it becomes a new planting bed. I’m sure during the summer I’ll take some time to find a different spot in the garden where 20+ clumps of daffodils (which will surely multiply a bit during the growing season) can go, and I’m sure I won’t decide it would be wiser to just plant new things in the new spot and leave the others where they are. Yes. I’m sure that will happen.
      It’s snowing this morning. Just a few flurries to make me look crazy when I’m out there gardening, but there are things to do today, and even cruising black Friday online clearance sales is off the burner… unless I look real quickly right now 😉

  2. Eliza Waters says:

    The potager sure looks all neat and tidy! Reading about your bulb planting makes me so happy that my chore of the same is DONE. I love seeing the flowers in spring, but all that digging is tough on this old bod. 😉 But, of course, I’ll forget all about it the next time a catalog hits my mailbox.
    What marker do you use on your metal stakes? I’ve found sharpies and wax pencils fade quickly. I’m thinking I might need a paint marker?
    Hope your Thanksgiving is a pleasant one, enjoy the long weekend!

    • bittster says:

      Heh heh, I’m feeling a bit sore today as I squeezed the last bulb and perennial planting in yesterday, shortly after eating too much. Oh the sacrifices we make 😉
      I hope you’ll save a little energy for a few new bulbs next summer! Hopefully I get around to the digging and dividing which I blew off this year. Don’t worry, you still have plenty of time to think about it 🙂
      I just write on the labels with your everyday #2 pencil and it lasts for years… even decades! The metal usually deteriorates first and that unfortunately clouds what you can read. A friend uses one of those P-touch label makers with a clear ribbon and that seems to work as well.
      For my average plants I cut up vinyl siding strips and also write on them with pencil. I’ve dug up 20 year old labels that are still just fine to read, plus they bend and don’t crack, so that’s another option.
      Hope your holiday weekend is off to an excellent start!

      • Eliza Waters says:

        Gosh, a pencil? Why didn’t I think that would last? I appreciate the tip. I have a whole box of those metal labels like you have that I picked up at a yard sale years ago, but have struggled to get them to stay marked. Pencil…who knew?
        I bought a roll of aluminum duct tape last year, which I cut into 3″ sections and fold in half lengthwise (the two sides form a super bond) and put a hole in the end with a nail, then use a sturdy wire or bamboo stick to anchor it in the ground. Marking them with a pen is easy and the impression lasts well so far and aluminum is forever, right?
        I spent yesterday feeling icky from my booster shot the day before, but we cooked our turkey dinner on Sunday anyway, so it didn’t matter. Sometimes I wonder if it is worth it, but if I felt bad for a day, I cannot imagine getting the real thing. Terrible!
        Hope you are well and enjoying the holiday. Going to Longwood this year? I wish I lived closer, I haven’t been in ages.

  3. swesely says:

    Your potager is so ready for whatever you do next year. And your use of the sand bed is genius. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. I’m thankful I’ve finished bulb planting.

    • bittster says:

      Haha Sue, I’m so glad you appreciate my ‘genius’!
      It’s such a relief to have things all buttoned down and all the bulbs safely planted. I’m almost there myself but there are still a few pots which need to go in the ground, and a few last minute jobs to tackle. There’s always something, right?

  4. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    My week is starting off with a big ol’ smile just reading that my ever frugal gardening friend has saved such a tidy amount that he can luxuriate in plant purchases that invigorate the local economy. Plus the spousal unit will be happy that most of outdoor chores are completed and you can help get the Holidays in control. Happiness is…

    • bittster says:

      🙂
      Lisa if you only knew. I might post a couple pictures this weekend to show where I’m at, the spousal unit is quite happy because we are losing garden space soon and gaining bedroom space. Obviously I would have preferred to spend the money elsewhere.
      Even with plenty to do outside for some reason I’m required to help with decorations and cleaning. What silliness! As if I ever contribute a dirty dish or leaf or dirt to the vacuuming…

  5. The sand bed is the perfect choice! Can’t wait to see it in April! (It’s too late now, but I might have been tempted to force some of those special bulbs to enjoy indoors in February or March!)

  6. I have to second Lisa’s comments. Plus, I have Hellebores blooming in my garden so all is definitely right in my world.

    • bittster says:

      Oh!? One thing my garden still lacks is a reliable fall-blooming hellebore. Right now my thinking is start tons of seeds and hope something works out but the reality of years of trying bunches of seed to see what works out is that I still have less than one successful H. niger seedling in the garden. My suspicion is a lack of decent drainage and a reliably acidic soil. There’s one spot where a seedling from a friend is hanging on, and that will be my focal point for future attempts!

  7. Okay, you have managed to add “autumn flowering snowdrops” to my 2022 plant want-list! 😀 And I think I have just the place to put them……(what a coincidence, lol)

    • bittster says:

      Hahaha, you’re so easily influenced. I hope the lower number of oaks has made autumn a little more tolerable these last few years. Drifts of huge oak leaves and tiny fall drops aren’t a super promising combination!

  8. Cathy says:

    Oh, I love your logic Frank! And that idea for more tulip/bulb planting is great. I wonder where those bulbs came from…. Are those metal things labels? The potager is looking very spick and span!

    • bittster says:

      😉 follow me for more inspiring budget tips
      The metal things are labels, I bought a big box of them years ago and then decided I had too many daffodils and shouldn’t buy any more. Since then they have been waiting patiently for the day my resolve fails.

  9. Chloris says:

    I never was very good at Maths but I think I could learn from you. I shall be envying you your tulips next year. This year for the first time in memory I haven’t bought any; I just couldn’t face planting them. I have Barnes too, I love these autumn blooming snowdrops. You can always impress non- enthusiasts with them, they think you have some special horticultural magic trick to make them bloom early.

    • bittster says:

      I did take a few math classes in school but was never convinced these math skills would ever come in as handy as they have.
      Sorry to hear you have no new tulips this year. I’d almost have real sympathy but my hopeful suspicion is that you have other new goodies to plant. Also not having to find spots to shoehorn new bulbs in isn’t the worst challenge.
      The autumn drops make the wait for February much less desperate. A friend gave me ‘Faringdon Double’ a few weeks ago and I’m hoping it’s as early for me as it is for you… well likely not that early, but a mid winter drop is always worth the gamble if it’s successful.

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