I’m looking at my garden and deciding what else needs to be done before the freezing weather sets in for good. I’ve turned over my fountain basin, I’ve brought in the plants I want to over-winter inside, and I’m trying to decide which bulbs I want where. I always put in daffodils and alliums, though I may add in some others this year. It may seem late, but as long as the ground isn’t frozen, I put them in. I never get to them early! I mean to, but it never happens. I know I’m taking down some big oak limbs next year, so I’ll have some more sun in that bed by the front door. That changes things a bit and it’s quite exciting!
I’ve also decided that I will no longer rake or blow leaves out of garden beds in the fall anymore, just on the patio and walkways. I don’t have a lawn, but I would do that too if I did. I recently read several articles about how the insect population is diminishing. Though the causes are many, and no one seems to know exactly why, there is no doubt that we need those insects! One of the reasons is the destruction of habitat, and part of that habitat is my yard. When leaves get raked up, so do many of the winter hiding places for the eggs or larvae of our insects. I know bugs are not everyone’s favorite living things in our backyards, but as you know, everything is connected. Insects pollinate our plants, they eat other bugs that eat our plants, they break down rotting vegetation and turn it into soil, and they are food for other insects, birds, frogs, and even fish. Another benefit to leaving my leaves is that they act as mulch for my plants over the winter. Nature had devised this wonderful way of protecting the roots of plants, (as well as feeding the plants themselves when leaves decompose), but we generally decide to get rid of them, and then chop up trees to use their bark as mulch. I love my mulch too, but I generally put a thin layer down in the spring, after I’ve removed any excess clumps of leaves. My favorite mulch for perennial beds is Coast of Maine’s Dark Bark Mulch, because it is very dark and fine, and feeds the plants as it breaks down over the year. If you shop at Glenwild, you how much we love our Coast of Maine products! (And they aren’t paying me to say this! 🙂 )
Another job that must happen this time of year is dividing certain perennials. I don’t do it every year, but I’ve got some Siberian Iris that are taking over a certain bed. The roots are so tight that it’ll be quite a workout—which I very much need. I’ll just take my pointed shovel and slice right through the big clumps and haul them away. I’ll put a little granular fertilizer in the new holes and wish them happiness in their new home.
The only other things I’ll do this time of year is put an organic granular fertilizer on my rhododendrons, (I have poor rocky soil and they need a little help), and cut back that clematis paniculata (the late summer blooming one with little white flowers) because it’s growing up into my hydrangea tree. I don’t generally cut back perennials in fall. I say it’s so the wildlife can eat the seed heads, but it’s really because I’m lazy!