In With the Old

I’ve been ignoring the colder temperatures long enough.  A sudden freeze would have made the great autumn migration much, much easier but I’d surely miss a few things next year.  The weather Saturday was beautiful and it’s the first weekend in a month where I didn’t spend most of my time emptying closets or running to the Salvation Army or painting or moving furniture…  So spending an afternoon moving a few plants was (almost) a treat 😉

overwintering plants

Putting everything on the driveway as a staging area seemed like a good idea… until even the driveway was filled.

Earlier in the month I’d already taken cuttings of coleus and other favorite annuals, hauled in the caladium pots and lugged the amaryllis in, and really thought I was on a good path… but then the plants started to accumulate.  Hmmmm.  Shame on those plants for growing so much.

overwintering plants

By the end of the day things looked downright tame.  A few things to shove into some dark corner of the garage when it really gets cold, and my precious tree fern which will stay out as long as possible.

So right now there’s no room in the winter garden for a January coffee, but I have a few months to straighten that out.  I’m sure it will all work out just like I’m sure over the next few days I absolutely won’t find a thing or two more to bring in or a handful of ‘just in case’ cuttings.

autumn garden

Decent temperatures and beautiful autumn light made spending all day outside a treat.  It’s amazing how things have recovered since the rains returned.

I wasn’t lugging all day.  It was just nice to be outside and I’m quite talented at just wandering around ‘thinking’ or sitting around and ‘contemplating’.  I guess we all have our superpowers even if we don’t all get to wear the fancy tights.

autumn garden

The late asters are nice enough but of course I’m still far too impressed with the purple stems of the ‘Sunnyside Up’ pokeweed.

One low point to this autumn is that nearly every last chrysanthemum in the potager’s chrysanthemum bed died out this past winter.  In the spring I was almost happy about all the open space, but now I miss them, especially the big football forms with their huge, shaggy blooms.  Who knows.  The winter wasn’t all that bad and many of them had been with me for years, but these things happen.  Fortunately I have backup plants, sadly not the same forms, but seeds are easy and if I want I can just collect a few seedheads this fall and within months I’ll have more than I lost… (as if I hadn’t already filled all that open space)

garden chrysanthemum

A mix of seedling chrysanthemums in the neglected former rock garden.  Even after a summer of no-care and searing heat and drought they’ve come through with a nice show!

Who knows why chrysanthemums just die.  Many of those big bushelbaskets of color sold in the fall aren’t actually hardy, and many more dry out too much to establish after the show is over, and some are just planted too late, but other times?  I know all the autumn rains last year had mine extra soggy going into winter but I was still surprised every last one died.  Wait, that’s not true.  One plant which was decimated by some foliage disease and went into bloom nearly leafless last fall had two tiny sprigs survive.  So the weakest plant survived… go figure.

garden chrysanthemum

The lone survivor in the the potager.  The color on this chrysanthemum reminds me of the dahlia ‘Cafe au Lait’ and I’m beginning to like it, plus strong stems make it great for cutting.    

Drifting aimlessly around the yard reminded me that for as productive as I was hauling other things in for the winter, the succulents that accumulated on the new stone wall this summer are still all out there.  They’re all in heavy clay pots on top of that.  Ugh.

succulent display

Time to pay the piper.  Free pots and extra cuttings sounded so harmless when I put together another 20 containers.  Now they all need winter homes.  

Wisdom has not followed age.  I bought three more (big) terracotta pots last month when I just happened to ‘stumble upon’ a 30% off clearance sale, and I have every intention of filling them next spring.  Sunday all of these came into the winter garden, even the ones I was going to leave out because I really don’t need them.  Someone gave me another succulent which he knew I was eyeing.  I know my mom has one which I’d like a bit of and my nephew as well.  I give it two more years before this whole fiasco collapses.  It’s going to be a great two years 🙂

autumn garden

The first snowdrops.  A new season begins before the old has passed.

And then there are snowdrops.  I was lukewarm for a week or two in August but now I’m just obsessing again.  Snowdrops and cyclamen because they’re sprouting as well, and for a winter garden they’re also essential.  And witch hazels.  I see buds on those, wow it’s going to be an exciting winter.  I hope it doesn’t fly by too quickly 😉

Hope you have a great week!

17 comments on “In With the Old

  1. Sorry to hear of the loss of so many mums. I noticed unusual woody dieback on a lot of my shrubs this spring.

    • bittster says:

      Yeah, it must have been some combination of too much or too little water at just the wrong time and then some sharp temperature changes. You never know. For me it’s easier to just have a few seedlings on the way 😉

  2. Paddy Tobin says:

    To my eyes, your garden looks fresh and bright. Leaves are tumbling down here in southeast Ireland; everywhere is wet with the ground soggy and squelchy to walk on; the lawnmower left muddy tracks when I ran it earlier in the week. Plants are becoming mushy and messy and most tender things have been moved into the glasshouse for winter. Dahlias need to be lifted and it promises to be a messy job.

    • bittster says:

      I was just looking at the blackened dahlias and cannas and thinking the same thing. Fortunately it hasn’t been too rainy so the digging process shouldn’t be too bad but of course it’s still not something to look forward to.
      We had some rain and strong winds last night. I feel like we finally moved into November as so many of the leaves came down but fortunately it’s still not squelchy. Time to start mulching!

  3. Too bad about those mums. As I recall, some were quite spectacular! Do mums die of old age? Seems weird that they’d all go at the same time, though . . . I’m sure you’re not surprised that I really love that one in the potager that survived.

    I had not realized quite the extent of your succulent collection! You should do something about that, lol! Several of mine are still sitting in the unheated garage, waiting for me to make room for them on top of the bookcase in my daughter’s room.

    I am not saving any caladiums this year since I had absolutely zero come back from last year. It feels liberating!

    Enjoyed the post!

    • bittster says:

      Oh my gosh, the succulents have really gotten out of control this summer and I suspect it will get worse by the spring. Someone even picked up all the little sprigs and sprouts which broke off during the migration. If it’s cold and dreary next month I’m sure those will all be potted up 🙂
      I don’t know about my caladiums. For a few years they were carefree to overwinter, now I’m back into the struggling stage and it’s maybe not worth the trouble. We will see, you know my fads come and go!

  4. Eliza Waters says:

    I think you need a winter greenhouse, Frank! 😉

  5. Your garden still looks terrific. The succulents on the wall are wonderful but glad it’s you and not me that has to deal with them. Brought in 3 Begonias and some bulbs I am going to try to overwinter and that’s enough for me. I only have one mum, planted last year, and I am thrilled that it flowered. Lots of loss and stressed plants of all sizes and kinds in the garden this year. We’ve had our first frost, some gorgeous Indian summer days and now we’re going back up into the 60°s again. Those temps forecast for early Nov. make me nervous. But good weather for cleaning and organizing the garage which is still on the to do list. That and watering.

    • bittster says:

      Haha, I was a little worried at the start of the migration and thought maybe it was a good idea to ‘cut a few loose’. Maybe next fall 😉
      I hope you get a little more rain and the fiercest of the weather stays North until you’re “ready” for it… or at least prepared lol

  6. I love that stone wall; was that one of your projects? If so, it turned out great! By the way, is that the foliage of Rhus typhina ‘Bailtiger’ that I spy along the right side of your third photo? If so, how do you keep the suckers from taking over? I was tempted by one of those a few years ago but when I mentioned it to a gardening friend, he practically went ballistic at the idea and so I backed off, LOL.

    • bittster says:

      Yes, that’s ‘Bailtiger’, one of my favorite plants but it does like to wander quite a bit so I don’t blame your friend for their reaction! I find it easy enough to pull the suckers here and there as they sprout and get some size to them. I have plenty of much more troubling weeds, but then again I never aim for total control with this one so maybe that’s a reason for my tolerance.

  7. Cathy says:

    It’s funny you should mention that Chrysanthemum’s die…. I have been wondering what happens to mine and only have two survivors out of five! You still have some lovely colour, and I really love the way that wall looks in the autumn light. Like here, it seems to have been mild for so long. I hope that doesn’t bode ill for winter. 😉 I don’t know how you manage to juggle all your plants that need to come indoors. Good luck!

    • bittster says:

      Yes, here it’s suddenly mild as well and although it’s a nice change it’s not the best temperature for digging and moving things, and of course the bugs are jumping at this last chance to fill their tummies!
      I guess we will take the winter as it is, as you know there’s no point in worrying ahead of time!

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