Thursday, November 17, 2016

A very long narration on the last days of the garden; You can just look at the pictures you know

Today was the last "warm" day - the temperatures were up to 70! In November! This is NOT why I moved to Wisconsin.... The weather is supposed to turn very cold, dropping way down to freezing tomorrow so I knew my brief space of time to finish the garden for the winter was running out. I started working a little past 7 and finally finished a little after 10! I was sweaty, tired, aching, and scratched but I finished! I was rather late to work, but it didn't matter because it was pretty quiet and I had a bunch of comp time anyways.

I took pictures before I started, to show the true state of the garden.

I have one large pot of very messy four o'clocks. The seeds have mostly been released or gathered and some of the stalks have already broken off. There is a rather weak clematis vine buried somewhere behind the mess and rather a lot of birdseed here and there.

I am hoping to have four o'clocks gradually take over this whole area and left a few tomato cages in the ground for next year, along with some small pots. I haven't watered the honeysuckle as often as I should; is that why it turned red or is that just what it does? Incidentally, this is not the invasive Japanese honeysuckle.

I really tried hard to keep the morning glories just on their two big trellises. They kind of take over though. They were not as lovely this year I felt - I had a lot of secretive slugs creating havoc at night and the nasturtiums didn't take off as well as I'd hoped. In the past I've collected morning glory seeds but I feel there are enough morning glories around!

The mini rose is still blooming, although its leaves are discolored. The big roses are putting out new leaves. Why? I do not know. There was one red bud left, but I know it's not going to actually flower after the one chilly night we had.

The chives are a bit browned - I should probably cut them tomorrow or they will be done and there will be no more chives. The mint is negligible. The alyssum is still blooming, but the scent is mostly gone. The black-eyed susan vines are still blooming, but their flowers are very tiny.

There are still raspberries! I am planning to pick the last tomorrow. The one chilly night we had last week finished off the dahlias and the zinnias were basically dead already. Gardening articles confidently assure me that I will be able to store the tubers over the winter. The tomato has been dead for a long time, although one of my neighbors said he's been eating tomatoes off it. Not recently I think!

The work begins.

I cut down all the old four o'clock stalks and dumped them at the back of the groundcover section, so the last few seeds will stay there. I got rid of the messed up trellises and just sort of dumped the clematis. On the one hand, the flowers were pretty. On the other hand, it was awfully straggly and never really went anywhere. I think the metal shepherd's hook was way too hot for it to climb up. If it survives the winter, I'll see if it would rather climb up the four o'clocks or the wooden stakes I've ordered.

I gave the honeysuckle a thorough watering and dumped some extra morning glory vines on top of it to keep it from freezing (hopefully) since Amazon helpfully sent all the stakes and twine and watering can I ordered for the spring and is sending the burlap later. Much later. Sigh.

The big bed was the most work. I pulled down the vines, dragged up the wire, and weeded. And weeded some more. And cursed the squirrels who had dug up some of my bulbs, tasted them, and realized they didn't like them. Grrr. Then I replaced the stepping stones, planted more bulbs, accidentally dug them up, planted them again (is there some secret to remembering where you planted bulbs?) found some of last year's bulbs that are sprouting, and took a break.

Then I put down more wire, reset the edge stones and added a liberal sprinkling of Sluggo. I took a break to cut down the dahlia and zinnia stalks and used those to cover the parts of the bed I hope to keep for nasturtiums next year, and dumped morning glory vines back on the other area. I might note at this point that this is only a small portion of the morning glory vines, the rest were recycled.

I cut back the roses, saving the one last bud for inside (although I know it will probably never actually bloom). Of course, no burlap, so I'll have to figure out a way to keep the roses alive through the coming frost.

So, gardening articles suggest that it's easy to get dahlias ready for winter. Just pull them up, shake off the dry dirt, and store them. No problem right? I planted two dahlias in each of my big pots last spring, both with tubers about the size of my fist. I tugged on the stalks. No results. I loosened them with a trowel. THE ENTIRE THING CAME UP. The 4 little bundles had morphed into MASSIVE CONGLOMERATIONS OF TUBERS. What the heck! Where am I even going to put these? Ok, more research shows it being called a "root mass" and says to divide them into the spring. Root mass is certainly correct.

The remains - root masses, calla bulbs, shoes that need to be put through the wash, birdfeeders to clean, leftover pots to clean. There is also a certain amount of dirt.

So, what's left? I need to trim back the raspberry canes, cover the roses and raspberry to get them through the frost, officially cover them when the burlap arrives, clean the birdfeeders and hang them up, clean the root masses and callas and store them in the basement, plant my paperwhites and amaryllis inside, and put out the winter feeders. Guess I'm not close to being done yet!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Last Raspberries of the Season

The wind rustles the limp, dry leaves
The cold squeezes the green from the canes
A single moment
A spark of red
A last taste of sweet, tart summer