In the garden we corral nature’s blossoms and fruits for our pleasure and nourishment. She responds on her own terms, giving some gifts we never thought to seek and withholding others we crave. ~Patricia Monaghan
October was a strange month for me in the garden. The perfect ending to a gardening year that was itself strange. This year, the weather was out of sync with the seasons, keeping some flowers blooming longer and others flowering late.
In late April I finally cleaned up my garden and was ready for the garden season. That was promptly cut short with surgery, and nothing was done to the garden beds the rest of the spring, summer and early fall. Now without doing any gardening, I am ending my garden season by cutting back most of the garden all over again.
I usually leave lots of plants up through the winter for birds as they eat the seed, for insects that overwinter in them and for winter interest. But since the gardens were so overgrown, it made sense to cut much of it back to find bushes and plants again, and to take the cover away from voles. In this garden journal, I am highlighting the front and side gardens. I’ll leave the back garden clean up for next month’s garden journal post when I will finally finish those gardens.
I am joining Helen@The Patient Gardener’s Weblog for her End of Month View as I review my October garden. And I am linking in with Judith@Lavender Cottage who is hosting Mosaic Monday. I love including mosaics or collages in my end of the month garden review, and this is a great link up to connect with others around the globe.
Theses images were typical of many days and nights in late October. The inserted image is a sunrise while the outer image is a sunset. Not much difference in them as far as color. October was warmer than usual for the first half, and then we had cool nights with another mild frost. But the second half was mostly seasonable with many sunny days allowing us to clean up the garden slowly.
The days we had rain brought intense storms even thunderstorms as we generally had an inch or 2 at a time adding up to over 6 inches in October. And the good news was we had no hard frosts or freezes at all.
Here is the overgrown front sidewalk gardens (left) in early October. We finally were able to begin cutting down the gardens in the last 2 weeks of October. A few hours of work and the garden now looks a little cleaner as seen in the center picture. At first glance it doesn’t look too different but many of the perennials are cut back, and most volunteers removed. I left a few hyssop volunteers as I want those for next year, and don’t have time to move them now. And the big grasses still need to be trimmed and maybe the trees and shrubs could use a bit of a cut too. It will depend on the weather if we get to it. The last shot is the side view from the driveway looking along the porch.
There are still loads of weeds still needing to be removed, but as I cannot kneel that will have to wait until spring. At least the garden is cut back so I can hopefully start the weeding in early spring next year. And with much of the dead and decaying plant material removed, we are hoping the vole damage may be kept to a minimum.
Here is the front kidney garden. It doesn’t look like much was done, but some things were cut back and some Echinacea removed due to Aster Yellows disease. And the twig of a new tree (see the black tube in the second picture) is covered against the deer and rabbit nibbles. This is a shared bed with our neighbor, unfortunately the house is a foreclosure and we await a sale if the bank ever decided to sell it. The house has been abandoned for 5 years now. But I am thinking I am going to redo the bed a bit. Remove some plants and divide others. The grass is dormant in the front yard, and that shows off all the weeds better like the green clover in the second picture.
The walled garden was a mass of flowers all summer. In the fall the mass became a mess of spent flowers. This garden took a few hours of digging out all the volunteering monarda, Northern Sea Oats and heliopsis. All natives I love. But they can get a bit aggressive and will spread easily. Now we can see the bushes and vines growing here. The red bush is an incredible Oakleaf hydrangea that is happier now that it has room to breath. And the big grass will be cut down…again voles do less damage when we cut down the grasses.
Lastly is the side garden. A couple of years ago we removed the butterfly bushes that were overwhelming the garden with seedlings everywhere. I have tried a few ideas and young trees here, but I am not happy with how it is progressing.
The bottom left picture shows how the first half of this garden looked in the summer. The next two bottom pictures show the whole side garden once all the blooms faded for the most part. And while the rudbeckias and Joe Pye gave it a nice look, it needs lots of work. Specifically the grass has moved the bed in by several inches, but that is a common problem in all the beds.
Cutting back this garden (top two pictures) gave me an idea of what bushes, trees and vines were thriving. And how I might move some things around in this garden. The ideas have definitely been percolating, and I hope to have some preliminary plans this winter to share.
This month I am also linking in with Floral Fridays. Floral Fridays is a monthly photography project with different themes each month. Trishie@Under Lock And Key decides on the monthly theme, and this month’s theme is “native blooms”. Trishie has asked us to tell about our native blooms (what is it called, when does it flower, does it have a scent). You can link in to see the blogs participating on 11/7. To take part, email her for next month’s theme.
Gaillardia pulchella is a favorite native flower also know as Indian Blanket that is still blooming a bit. It blooms here from June until the first freeze, and it does not have a scent that I have noticed. I have not done a profile of this native yet so look for one in 2015.
This is Helianthus maximiliani or Maximilian sunflower a native that blooms in early fall. No scent, but its 8 foot stems support dozens of blooms that the pollinators and monarchs love.
I was shocked to see this hardy hibiscus blooming through the cold nights in October. This 6 foot tall plant should have bloomed in mid to late summer, but it chose to bloom in cool October. Known as Hibiscus moscheutos or Crimson-eyed rose mallow, the hummingbirds are supposed to love these, but my hummers missed them this year.
One more native plant is the American Linden tree pictured at the top of the post. It is a new 5 foot tree that just flowered and produced some fruit this year. I expect I may be following this tree next year.
I was able to uncover a few hardy cyclamen as we did our garden clean up. Love this lilac-pink bloom as did the fly.
And what a surprise to find toadlilies growing. I have one plant left, but I am grateful for it.
You can see the dark waters of the still pond in October (in the top left picture). We take out the pump and let the pond freeze over. This year we didn’t remove the pump until the 30th which is quite late. As it gets colder, the lily pads change color and fade with few left now.
I am not showing the meadow as it has not changed much. Soon the meadow’s spent blooms will catch snow and ice and take on a completely different look. But I can wait another month for that.
We had a number of bird visitors in October. The top two sparrows (American Tree Sparrow and White-Throated Sparrow) were new to our garden as they stopped by for a bite on their way south. A blue jay who lives in the woods behind us has been visiting a bit now and then making his presence known. And a spied a few juncos already too. Hunter, our young fox, has been running about and the twin fawns are growing up getting their winter fur now.
Monarchs are gone, but they lingered here and there until mid October, quite late for them. Lastly is our newest resident, a gray squirrel. I’ll have his story this winter as I am sure we will see him about a lot since he built a nest in our tall ash tree. His nest is lower than we have seen others build in past years. Could that mean we will have a milder winter?
In A Vase On Monday
To end the garden review, I am joining Cathy@Rambling in the Garden for her meme, In a Vase on Monday. I am also linking in with Today’s Flowers hosted by Denise@An English Girl Rambles. Seeing what flowers I have been picking for vases lets you know what has been blooming in the garden recently.
So what flowers are catching my eye now as October ends and November begins? Just enough to make a couple of interesting vases. The cold, rainy days did not deter many flowers, especially since we had not had a freeze yet.
This first one has all the lovely delicate flowers still blooming bravely: Japanese anemone, pink Fairy roses, lavender, coreopsis, knautia and toadlily. The bouquet rests on Lady’s Mantle leaves.
How amazing to still see these blooms in late October, early November.
And there were some amazing autumn colors left for a second vase. Bright red hardy geranium foliage, various rudbeckias sending out a few more blossoms, and white blooms of Chocolate Joe Pye perfect to contrast the other bright colors.
But this vase will fade faster than the first vase. But my foliage vases from last week and the week before are still going strong with the cattails.
So there you have 2 more vases with lots of late flowers in early November. I imagine more vases in the future using some foliage and grasses in the garden as we are due finally for our first hard frost sometime this week.
Visit my new blog:
I wanted to thank all the wonderful people who have been visiting my new blog, Living From Happiness, over the past few months. It is a blog that celebrates life, lessons, change, challenges and creativity.
I post on Sundays and Thursdays. I do hope you will join me there to read my musings about life on Thursdays, and some original poetry on Sundays, all illustrated by my photography.
Next up on the blog:
Wednesday I will have another Wildlife Wednesday post. And next Monday brings a fall wrap up for my maple in a Tree Following post.
I am also joining in I Heart Macro with Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday.
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