What a glorious Tuesday evening, with a gentle, chilly rain tapping on my windows. It is amazing that the guests in my garden who were looking a bit droopy, simply stood at attention as if to say Thank You to the Heavens. I decided to venture out and see exactly what I could trim back without making my garden look naked just yet. When you have a cottage garden, the organized jumble that I find beautiful, is meant
to be a lush organized jumble…..not a sparse and half empty landscape. So I must be careful about what I “neaten”, as I like to say.
I “neatened” some Solidago,, as it had finished blooming. I released some native Boltonia that appeared to have ventured in front of some plants, creating quite a nice skrim…but that is not where I wanted them. Dainty little white blooms that add a bit of freshness to the garden as surrounding plants decline. The Hosta’s are putting on their shades of yellow show, the crepe myrtles are putting on their cloaks of many colors, the dog wood – earliest to blush at the thought of winter, is beginning to drop its leaves and the hydrangea is beginning to take on the mahogany shades of oFall.
The beauty of this active change in the garden is realizing that nothing will look the same tomorrow or the next day. Now is the perfect time to take pictures, collect a few perfect leaves, perhaps pick a bloom of something blooming right now like pansies, tryciterous, Camellias or one of the last dahlias. If you have nothing blooming in the garden right now – then now is the ti
me to remedy this situation for next years garden.
Be mindful of the following tips as you enjoy this transitional time in the garden:
1. Take great pictures of how your garden looks now….and take a lot of them. As you look at these photos over the winter (and yearn to go outside and plant) you will be able to develop a strategic plan on how you will enhance these spots. Perhaps it is overcrowded, lacks umph, needs some winter interest, needs some variations in height/texture/fragrance, need a spot for cutting flowers, etc. – the list goes on. Seize the moment to find and photograph the weak spot in your garden, before it gets too cold. By taking notice of the gaps and while plants are being marked down or are already on sale at the local garden centers, save some green as you plant some green!!!
2. Think about composting, perhaps locate a new are for composting. If you have a large garden bed that backs up to a fence or an unnoticeable area, start a slow compost pile/bin right there. Make a cylinder of chicken wire, hog wire or snow fencing braced up with stakes or rebar. I usually dig a circle that is about 6-10 inches deep (depends on the size of the area). I push that soil to the sides and usually it helps anchor my cylinder to the ground. I add non diseased garden debris, this seasons annuals, brown leaves and a handful of garden soil. When I am bored over the winter, I go outside and if it frozen, flip this several times to mix it up. I really flip this in the Spring when it has thawed and broken down and voila…compost that I do not have to carry to this site. It is already there!!
3. By now all of your prized tropical plants should be indoors. However be careful of hitch hiking critters. Did you know that crickets, spiders, slugs and other bugs/insects can hitch a ride on leaves, in the soil or on the bottom of pots? Make sure you thoroughly spray with insecticidal soap to suffocate and restrict them from multiplying. Check, recheck and recheck again for minute larvae and eggs.
4. Plant too big to take inside another year? Take some cuttings and try to make more plants. It is a great winter activity and the reward can be great come Spring. Do your research first however. Some plants are easily propagated from soft wood or hardwood cuttings. I do this with my Brugmansia and share the cuttings as Christmas presents.
Just a few of my personal hint’ s and tips. Now I want to nestle down and read up on what new introductions I will NEED for the 2015 garden season…start some more plants and re-think my existing garden as well!!!