The sweet calm sunshine of October, now
Warms the low spot; upon its grassy mould
The purple oak-leaf falls; the birchen bough
Drops its bright spoil like arrow-heads of gold.
William Cullen Bryant
Don’t be fooled by these lovely cosmos. They have been gone since mid-October when we had our only freeze (no frosts) so far this fall. October has been spectacular, not so much November. As Hurricane Sandy hit, the cold front swooped in too. Now we have highs of 40 and lows in the 20s. That will end anything blooming for sure in the garden. And with the cold comes the dark as the clocks have just been turned back one hour. So I will be starting my daily rides to and from work in the dark for the next 2 months. Once the winter solstice is here I can see light again. But until then, I will feel like I am in a dark tunnel longing for light.
And with the end of October in the garden, it is time to see how things have progressed in my garden as fall is now halfway through its cycle. I will be joining several other gardener’s memes with this journal post: Walk in Garden@This Grandmother’s Garden, First View@Town Mouse & Country Mouse; Garden Bloggers Harvest Day (GBHD)@The Gardening Blog, Best and Worst of My Garden@Bumble Lush, Salad Days@Veg Plotting on the 4th Friday of the month and End of Month View with Helen@The Patient Gardener’s Weblog.
October continued the glorious fall weather of sun mixed with some rain; highs in the 60s and lows in the 40s and 50s. We even had some days in the 70s. And because of this glorious weather, I was able to get many chores done including planting hundreds of bulbs especially alliums and snowdrops. But that all shifted dramatically this past week when we were jolted back to reality and our normal later fall weather of gray cold raw days barely topping 40. I am hoping this is just a temporary state and that we will quickly get back to highs in the 50s.
While many places had lots of rain, we had dribs and drabs throughout the month totally 4.5 inches. But the steady rain and cooler temps have made many plants happy, while others are taking heed to head below ground and wait for warmer times. I must say though we are having incredible sunrises as the colors change from orange, purple, red and gold.
I thought I would show the back gardens from over the left fence. This is a view I seldom think to show. The pond and patio are to the right of the arch. The vegetable beds are on the far right side where that clump of yellow helianthus can be seen. This scene was early October before the leaves changed and fell within 2 weeks time.
This view takes us a little farther down the fence toward the back where the meadow is just over the fence behind the pergola. The red twig dogwoods are showing their splendid bark. The flowers slowing their blooming this early in October. You can see one of the pickets in the middle of the fence is broken. We think it was caused by a deer jumping the fence in haste one day.
This view has me turning back toward the house and looking over the fence toward the pond. You can just see the cattails straight across on the far side.
As I turn completely back to face the house, you can see the shade garden at the back of the house. Here we can also see the splendid oak leaf hydrangea.
Now we have walked to the end of the fence and we turn to view the gate that sits at an angle to the corner of the house. This small garden is the deer proof garden with lavender, shasta daisies, echinacea and alliums. Looking toward the side of the house we can see the walled garden. As you can see the back gardens really need to edged again, but that will be one of the spring projects.
The hostas were still growing and flowering until the mid month freeze. I do love the way they fade, paper thin leaves almost transparent like frozen lettuce. I only grow hostas in the back garden to protect them from the foraging deer. But my poor picket fence is no match for the deer.
This is the new Chrysanthemum ‘Matchsticks’. It had one bloom and didn’t grow much but boy what a bloom. I hope it will overwinter and grow more next year. I may need to move it to a sunnier spot.
The gaillardias have sprung back after the freeze and this red one in the front garden continues to bloom away.
I wait all year for the Chocolate Joe, Ageratina altissima, to bloom in September and October. Isn’t it gorgeous. Pollinators love it and apparently a spider has made a home here too. This Joe grows in dry sun and has never seeded itself.
The pond in October was beautiful and the frogs enjoyed it thoroughly as they hung out and chilled. I really need to take lessons from the frogs especially this year’s frogs. The mellowest I have seen yet. I really like it when the leaves start to settle in and around the pond. The lily pads regrew after their infestation of aphids in summer and are just beginning to fade in cold November. And yes the waterfall is still going. We have not taken out the pump for winter yet.
As you can see the meadow is long done with blooming, but the colors of the trees behind and beside it set off the fading flowers. With the removal of the teasel, I was able to add helenium, joe pye, butterfly weed, milkweed, swamp milkweed, helianthus, northern sea oats, baptisia all from the garden. And I did a bit of seeding as well for yarrow, gaillardia and a few other natives. Unfortunately the teasel has continued to fill right back in, but we are determined to pull it early this spring and not let it even set flowers.
Veg Beds Update
So we finally installed another raised bed. We were going to build it from bricks, but instead put in a matching raised bed. We cleared the area (top left), then built the bed and dug it in (bottom left). Once it was filled and ready we decided to make it our summer veg bed with tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and okra. And the current tomato bed has become the garlic/onion bed. Here you can see I planted 60 cloves of Tuscan and Siberian hardneck garlic in late October. Then in spring onions will go in too.
We also dug out the top third of the soil, and added lots of compost to ready all the beds for spring planting. Lastly we covered them all with shredded leaf mulch. Below you can see the grow bags were still producing greens and carrots as was the bean bed producing a bit until the freeze.
Here’s the salad we made from the last of the beet greens, lettuces and nasturtiums flowers that were growing strong even after the freeze.
The seed growing station with grow lights an heat mats is back on for the herbs I brought inside. You can see rosemary, parsley, basil, cilantro and white sage my annual herbs grown this summer. There is also lemon balm and perennial sage.
Then we have chives, thyme, oregano and mint I dug up from the garden, and then potted up for growing indoors as well. I am hoping some grow a bit better than they have. I think a bit of fertilizer will help them adjust. I enjoy having the herbs growing indoors for cooking all winter.
The critters were plentiful in October. Deer made a reappearance. The bees were still buzzing although they were slowing down. We dug up this big toad accidentally and promptly buried him. He knew we were headed for a freeze as we found him in early October which is most unusual. The snakes were very active through most of October. Even the fox made an appearance sporting a furrier coat. Cardinals visited and feasted on the helianthus seed heads. And you can see the the frogs were relaxing still in the pond. We even had a monarch stop by for a quick nip of some aster nectar on 10/20. I was worried he was here so late, and hope he found safety from the hurricane.
Gardens Eye Verse
Well we come to the end of another month and most probably the end of the garden except for some foliage that will remain. So I may be putting the journal to bed until spring. Of course I plan to grow some greens indoors from seed, dream of new projects and wax poetic about this year’s garden. I leave you with a couple of poems that describe October fall through my senses. Hope you enjoy them!
Rustling leaves like sounds of water rushing past,
Weary and worn mature colors of age.
Stretching, straining to hold on,
Before winter calls them to slumber.
Brown and tattered mere memories.
What are the sounds, the smells of fall?
Do you remember them one and all-
The scent of the leaves beginning to fall,
The howl of chill winds and mournful calls.
The crow’s lonesome caw adrift on the wing,
Has me dreaming already of flowers in spring.
Don’t forget that December 1st marks the next installment of Seasonal Celebrations/Garden Lessons Learned. Click the link to learn more. Beth@PlantPostings will be wrapping up this past season with lessons we have learned in our gardens, and I will be setting the stage for next season’s celebrations (winter up N and summer down S of the equator).
You do need to be a garden blogger to join in Season Celebrations. Any blogger is welcome. Write a poem, post your favorite pictures and prose that tells why you love this season. What do you love to do in this upcoming season? What holidays or rituals make it a wonderful season for you? How does your garden grow and what favorite plants will be blooming? I hope you will be joining us. Just create a post and link in with both or one of us between December 1st and the 20th, and around the 21st we will reveal those lessons and celebrations.
I will be linking in with Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme. It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Wednesday.
As always, I’ll be joining Tootsie Time’s Fertilizer Friday.
I hope you will join me for my posts once a month, at Beautiful Wildlife Garden. The next one will be on the 13th.
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