It is now October and I am slowly putting my garden to bed for the winter. I am watching the weather closely for days that are dry and not to chilly to work outside. So far I am not having much luck. Rain and cool temperatures are set for the next 10 days or so. I can handle the cool but not the wet and cold at the same time. So I am watching.
While it rains I am reviewing what needs to be done and what can stay until spring. This is a constant issue with me. Do I leave the dying plants sit through the winter giving structure to the landscape plus food and hiding places for critters? Or do I cut down the plants clear the land having it ready for spring growth, leaving things open so critters don’t burrow eating spring bulbs and stripping branches of bark killing young bushes?
One year I cleared everything away and the critters stripped so many bushes of bark. It was awful. The next year I left things and I had more critters than I wanted and they also had fun eating through bushes and tender young trees. Not sure how to win this game between nature and myself.
So here is the plan for this falls clean up and this gets me to the phrase “what was I thinking?!”
I plan to clear the Hostas and the perennial bed in front. I will leave the garden bed in back but clear and fence around the new perennial Hibiscus plant and the young Hydrangea that I just moved to the back hill. I have fenced the new Iris plants that came from the family farm but will clear all the raised veggie beds. There will be the leaves to take care of once they drop and I need to reseed the grass that decided not to grow this summer.
Somewhere during this month I need to get applesauce made and canned for the winter. I guess that is what rainy days are for.
Then there is the fall planting – I have already put in two Helleborus (called Ice Follies). These guys will bloom very early in the spring. They don’t mind the snow. I am waiting for a fern leaf Bleeding Heart to arrive and a Woodland fern to add to the back garden.
Then there are the bulbs that showed up this week. WHAT was I thinking!!?? This heavy box was placed at my door. The print on the outside said Colorblends so I knew it was the bulbs I had ordered sometime during the summer.
It must have been a quiet, sunny, warm, restful day because when I opened it I discovered I had ordered myself 150 bulbs to plant! What!!?? Where did I think they were all going to go? When did I think I had that much energy? Am I crazy? (Yes, would be the correct answer here.)
Ok – breathe! 25 of them are large snowdrops that bloom early in the spring so I will place them in the new garden bed up front with the Helleborus. Then 25 of them are daffodils with a bright orange cup so maybe they can go on the back hill. Critters usually don’t eat daffodils due to the fact they are poisonous and they are bright so we could see them from the back deck in the spring.
Ok, that leaves 100 bulbs which are tulips – red, orange and purples are mixed together. Who knows which bulb is which? Where am I going to plant all of those and then protect them from the critters both above ground (squirrels, chipmunks and rabbits) and the below ground (voles).
I think this display of spring color will need to go in the front flower beds. It will be interesting to see what I can really plant around the perennials.
How do I plant bulbs in and around the other plants that I also want to keep in the garden for next summer? There is also the issue of not disturbing the mums that are blooming now in the late fall.
How do professional gardeners do this?
Oh yeah – they have a team of folks working for them. They also pull lots of the summer plants out of the ground and replant them next spring after the bulbs have finished. They have greenhouses to store their perennials in. I don’t have any of this!
So this is what I need to work out today. Where will 100 tulips bulbs go?
It will be lovely next spring but for now I am thinking I am crazy! I am doing what my mother use to do (and I said I would not do). I am over buy plants, creating more work for myself then I could handle but some how it all gets done. Right?
I remember she often had 50/100 bags of oak leaves leaves, the planting of bulbs, the clearing of beds and the canning. I don’t know how she did it but I guess I will find out during the month of October.
Wish me luck!