Monday's Rolled Around Again, Folks
On Knitting With Precision. Or Not.

Time To Button Up

Well. It's time to button up my garden for the coming winter.

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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!

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(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. . . 

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(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.

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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.

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"When the world wearies, and society ceases to satisfy, there is always the garden."
                    --- Minnie Aumónier

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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).

 

Comments

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Vicki

So pretty! The leaves really are amazing this year. I'm not crazy at the looming prospect of having to wear shoes more than sandals, but I'm enjoying putting on a sweater.

Bonny

Your garden looks lovely in fall (and provides lovely resting places for the J-pups)! John avoids a big fall vegetable garden clean-up by planting more. Now we've got the remnants of tomatoes (still producing) along with chard, Brussels sprouts, turnips, carrots, and spinach. t's much less work than during the summertime and I enjoy it more!

Geri

I’m doing some limited garden clean up. I have some plants that need moving and need to be done in the the fall. Mostly I’m finally planting daffodil bulbs, all over the place! I’m slow to bring in my garden ornaments they brighten up the spaces.

Mary

I love your garden all year round, Kym, and this year, the fall colors - pinks, purples, and golds - are especially gorgeous!

Sarah

You know I am not much of a gardener, so it makes me feel better about my own laissez-fair attitude when I see that you approach your garden the same way. I will pull out the stuff that's dead (and won't come back) to add some browns to the compost, but I leave pretty much everything as is to decay in place and give its nutrients back to the soil.

Patty

Doug tidied up a few weeks ago and is anxiously awaiting his new bulb delivery. They supposedly ship by zone so it's got to be soon...we've had some very cold mornings already! Love seeing the J-pups!

Vera

There is something (to moi) about a garden in the fall that is very relaxing and soothing. I love it! The muted colors are calming. I like your attitude about a Fall garden and yay for Mr. Heater!! We do have Fall crops in - harvested bok choy the other night for a stir fry and it was wonderful. Lettuces (several varieties), spinach and Swiss chard are all coming up too. Fletch will plant our garlic in a day or two.

Kat

I too love to let the plants that do seed... seed. It is nice to have babies to move to new areas, or little plants to give to neighbors! And yes... that veggie garden needs to be all removed... (although I still get a volunteer tomato or ten each year despite being vigilant in clean up... I think they must be "gifts" from the birds that manage to get a tomato or two each year!)

Carole

I love your approach to buttoning up the garden . . . I take it as permission to be lazy about my own stuff! We did dig up and swap the clethra and weigela last weekend and they look MUCH better where they are now, the clethra can really spread out. I still have lots of zinnias and I noticed roses on my knock out rose bush this weekend. The last gasp of summer is what my mother always called it.

sustainablemum

My garden is in need of some clearing up, I am ignoring it at the moment but I can't do that forever!

Chloe

I'm not much of a gardener. Too absent- minded to remember to even water. But I did have some amazing pansies one year that survived with robustness throughout a snowy winter and burst forth with gusto the following spring. With absolutely no attention from me. They were my heroes that year. Your autumn garden is a delight.

Claudia

Ah, the beauty in decay.

Margene

Every time you show your garden I love to peruse every corner and see the many plants you grow. Living in this desert climate makes me slightly envious of your lush garden. I pulled up ALL my woodruff and have a plan for next year that includes some wild geraniums, hellebores, spiderwort, and small hostas. I've planted bulbs, but wish I had more. Smith has the vegetable garden cleared out completely, and has already planted the garlic. Autumn is a glorious time of year!

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