Ok, so I think I have to admit I’m halfway liking fall this year. Those who know me are shocked. I’m shocked, but to be honest the weather has been decent, there’s been free time to work in the garden, and just enough rain has come down to make planting and projects a pleasure, so it’s kind of an ideal autumn. Gnats though, that’s one thing I can complain about. They’re all over, but as long as I keep my head covered and don’t sit around too much it’s still tolerable… usually… until they get so thick I inhale a few, and then I’m done and back in the house.
‘Pink Cadillac’ chrysanthemum just starting in the front border alongside some floppy little bluestem and perovskia.
Once the clouds of bugs thin a little, I sneak out a different door and try for a few more minutes in the garden. October is chrysanthemums, and surprisingly enough a few have survived all the summertime neglect to now look bright and fresh in an otherwise tired looking garden. One of these years I will really give them the springtime attention they deserve, but they don’t seem to be pining away waiting for me to come through for them, and look good anyway. I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.
A nice orange chrysanthemum which was discovered after the Rosa glauca was cut back mid summer. It’s been blooming for at least a month and the flowers get to be almost four inches across, so I’m good with that!
Although I’ve been enjoying the finale of the garden more than usual this year, I’ve also managed to squeeze in some actual work and projects. One such project has been building up some of the flower beds which drowned last year in the endless rain we had. A load of topsoil was ordered and delivered, and slowly found its way around the house and into the backyard, wheelbarrow by wheelbarrow, and will hopefully help in keeping plants up and out of the swamp… just in case we ever end up in another repeating loop of rainstorm after rainstorm after flood.
Drowned hydrangeas and rhododendrons are gone, and this bed’s been raised about two or three inches. Also a nice walk out of salvaged stones makes this bed look promising again.
Although I am entirely against hard labor, at least the delivered topsoil is root and rock-free and easy to dig… as long as it’s only slightly wet, and hasn’t crusted yet or turned into rock solid dirt clods. Hopefully it makes for easy planting and good growing next year with a minimum of weeds, but experience suggests otherwise and I should probably get a plan together as far as mulching and groundcovers.
The bog garden is looking quite nice now that the pitchers have grown a little and some spagnum moss has been moved in. Now if I only knew what to do with it for the winter.
I had planned on ordering a load of shredded bark mulch to follow up on the topsoil, but yesterday discovered my source is closed for the season. Easy come easy go I guess, and I’ve taken that as a sign to not bother, save the money, and instead find something else (preferably free) to cover up the newly bare and exposed real estate for the winter. My friend Paula mentioned her frequent trips for free township compost and that sounded like an excellent plan. A little research on my part and I discovered there may be free compost available from my town as well, and maybe just maybe I can squeeze a few loads into the back of my less than three month old suv without making a muddy mess. We’ll see. It’s about time I broke it in anyway.
The topsoil ran out and so did the gardener, so this is how I left things. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have the energy to redo the stone path and set the last of my stones… but I still need more soil to raise the bed and all of that is gone…
Oh and by the way in between dirt moving and stone setting, I weed wacked the entire industrial park berm. Ok so it took three days and it was before the dirt was delivered, but I’m glad it’s done and I have to admit it does look nicer… even if I almost broke a leg a couple times as I lost my footing or tried to reach just a little too far down the slope…
The berm stretching back from my mother in law’s to the end of my yard. The spruce are at least ten feet tall, so it’s a big area and a lot of work to clear. Imagine my two word response when someone said “I wish you would have done that all summer”.
The boring neatness of a cut berm is far less interesting than the front yard, so it’s out there that I go to enjoy some color. We had a bit of frost last Saturday, but overall it’s still fairly colorful with a few late bloomers and a bunch of lingerers.
After ten years a few of my conifers have finally grown big enough to become noticeable. Oh my gosh this might qualify as winter interest!
The lingerers are mostly annuals and dahlias holding on until frost, and the late bloomers are mostly mums and asters, but there is one star which always makes me happy to see. ‘Sunnyside Up’ pokeberry (Phytolacca americana) has been lighting up the street side of the border all summer and as I found out this past week has been stirring up the neighborhood as well. While cleaning the last of the dirt from the driveway a neighbor stopped by to tell me about the ‘invasive’ he saw growing out there. “Those weeds are all over my backyard” he started with, and then continued to go on about how they spread and how fast they grew, but not much further before I cut him off with the offer of another beer. Problem solved.
At this time of year I love the red stems and purple berries alongside the yellow foliage of “Sunnyside Up” pokeweed. I get a little thrill every time the mockingbird swoops down to snatch another berry or two and spread the joy of this lovely native far and wide. As long as you’re going to have pokeweed might as well have a lovely yellow leaved strain.
Once the subject changed I didn’t even mention the masses of mugwort and the forest of bradford pear seedlings which lined the road behind him. Or the bittersweet which went from just a sprig to a tree-strangling mass in five years… or the Japanese knotweed, stiltgrass, honeysuckle, garlic mustard in the woods… or the purple loosestrife growing in his foundation beds. Hmmmmm. Plenty for another post. We should enjoy just a few more autumn flowers instead 🙂
One of the last of the colchicums, C. autumnale album plenum. Just as a note I’ve tried to refrain from posting too many colchicum photos this year, so fair warning that 2020 will be a rebound year.
I’m thinking the reason I’m finally enjoying autumn is the new ‘I don’t care’ attitude which has developed out of my previous ‘because I can’ attitude. At first it was actually a little hard to leave the lawn uncut and let weeds grow, but unless it was really necessary I let a bunch of the tedious labor slide this year in favor of stuff I’d still be enjoying years from now. New shrubs. New beds. New paths. Lower maintenance plantings. Simplification. Last year to keep the garden perfect meant continuous mowing, trimming, and weeding that went around the yard and then started all over as soon as it was done. Thats no fun, and it’s also only appreciated by myself. So I let it go.
The hardy cyclamen (C. hederifolium) alongside the driveway are flowering well this fall. About half rotted out from the rain last year, but the survivors seem to have recovered and are seeding about.
Or… maybe I’ve just reached critical mass for fall flowers and this is the first year in three that every day doesn’t start with gloomy, rainy grayness, but I think it’s the flowers. Better get to the nursery this afternoon to make sure I haven’t missed any fall blooming plants that can still go in 🙂
My bougainvillea has greeted cooler weather with a second flush of flowers. The colors scream summer, but the blooms are welcome regardless even if they do look a little out of place in October.
Or maybe I’m overthinking all of this. The truth is I have new snowdrops, and some are already sprouting and in bloom and that makes me think of spring. I love spring. Maybe all this talk of autumn is really just a very very early spring.
Have a great week 🙂