Well. It's time to button up my garden for the coming winter.
I really enjoy being out in my garden in the fall. It's cooler, for one thing, which makes it much easier to take care of my chores. It's beautiful, too. Not just the leaves on the trees (which are absolutely stunning this year) -- but also the last force of blooms on some of my plants (I have zinnias, dahlia, goldenrod, and hardy geraniums going to town right now) and even the dead-and-dying stalks and leaves. Because there is a beauty to the decay in my garden, too.
And the dogs love it in the garden at this time of year! They like to crunch down into the plants and dig a little here and there. There are squirrels to chase and possums to track. Exciting times, if you're a dog!
(This photo isn't crooked; my yard is crooked - big hill - and this photo really shows it!)
Sadly, the deer are also happy in my garden this year. Usually . . . they don't venture into my fenced back gardens until spring. This year? They've already arrived. Mostly just munching on my hostas. Oh, well. Just another challenge to deal with in the garden. . .
(Jenny, now 13-and-a-half, has always loved hanging out in the hostas -- ever since she was a tiny pup. Some things never change.)
When it comes to buttoning up my garden for the season, I tend to take a . . . relaxed approach. I do what I can to prepare things for spring - a bit of pruning, a little more deadheading, some planting (fall is a great time to plant perennials) (and bulbs, of course). I like to take stock and make notes -- to remind myself of things that worked/didn't work, for example, and to remind myself in the spring of things I want to be sure to do then.
But I leave a lot of dying-back plants and seed heads . . . as is. I don't rake the mulch from my garden beds (much). I'm trying to provide a "friendly" environment for my garden friends -- the birds, the beneficial insects, my frogs and toads. (I do tend to get the leaves off the grass -- if they fall before the snows come. Always a crap shoot around here . . . ) I also like to let my self-seeding plants do a little self-seeding. I tend to like "volunteers" in my garden. I can always pull them next spring if they get a bit too exuberant, or if they show up where I don't want them to be.
Now is the time I bring all my garden "tchotchkes" in for winter storage. And usually the furniture -- although this year, we're leaving some things out in an attempt to extend our outdoor time as much as possible. (Thanks, Mr. Heater!). I re-plant my containers several times in the fall -- mums and pumpkins for early fall, pansies for as long as they last, and then grasses and (usually) dead branches/brown hydrangea flowers and berries for later fall.
Fall . . . is a peaceful time in the garden for me. There isn't much stress-and-pressure like there is in the spring - when everything is exploding everywhere and I can barely keep up. It's more quiet. There is time for reflection; a gentle unwinding. It's a good time to BE in the garden.
"When the world wearies, and society ceases to satisfy, there is always the garden."
--- Minnie Aumónier
PSA: I want to point out that my laissez-faire attitude about fall garden chores and clean-up is appropriate for perennial gardens; NOT vegetable gardens -- where meticulous clean-up is absolutely necessary. (Another reason I don't have a vegetable garden, to be honest.) Here is an excellent article by Margaret Roach (perhaps my favorite garden expert) full of fall garden clean-up tips for both perennial gardens and vegetable gardens. You can find a lot more great information on her website (including links to her podcast).