|Orange zinnias make for a nice autumn-themed bouquet.|
Yep, Autumn really is here now, no denying it. It's been chilly and windy the past week, although it's been sunny too, so by mid-afternoon it's not too bad to work outside. I've been trying to do a few things around the gardens in anticipation of the end of the gardening season and the changes I want to make next spring:
North Border Improvements:
|The new curvy front section of my North Border.|
The biggest project I've been working on is the new curvy front section to my North Border. As I wrote in my last post, next spring I will move the flowers currently in the back section of the North Border to this smaller front section, and plant only evergreen trees, shrubs and plants in the back section, so I'll have a permanent Winter Border and a herbaceous Summer Border -- something to look at from my windows all year round.
My husband sprayed the grass last week and I rented a sod-cutting machine and used it to remove the sod, which I then had to pick up in small sections (sod is heavy!) and move to a large compost pile on the south edge of our property, using our pickup truck. My husband then tilled up the exposed soil. He'll spray any weeds that emerge at least once more before we plant anything there in spring.
The back left section of the North Border, which gets too much shade from the large ash tree at left for things to grow well there, is being returned to grass. I raked, seeded and watered it yesterday.
As soon as frost cuts down the annuals in the existing North Border, I will remove them, along with any weeds still growing there and anything else that I don't want to move forward to the herbaceous section next spring. That should make the reorganizing and replanting easier then.
|All ready for planting -- now I just have to wait MORE THAN SIX MONTHS until mid-April, when the foliage of plants and bulbs will be up, to move them into their new arrangement. Guess I'll just have to be patient....|
Another thing I've been doing is figuring out how to save seeds from my annuals -- something I've never tried before. I've always figured that seed packets are so cheap (only a dollar!), and I do enjoy buying them in late winter, imaging how lovely the flowers will be. But "only a dollar" adds up when you sow as many packets as I do in my large garden areas; I must spend at least $50 each spring on annual seeds, most of which are duplicates for large areas, things like zinnias, cosmos and four o'clocks.
|These 'Old Spice Mix' sweet pea seeds were really easy to find and extract.|
|These drying zinnia seeds are ones I'm saving by color (even though it's not |
certain that they will indeed bloom in their parent's color, as they could have
been pollinated by pollen from a different color zinnia -- we'll wait and see!)
I'm also thinking about ways I could start more of my own annuals. I buy a lot of petunias, marigolds, impatiens and other common annuals as starts, probably spending $100 a year on them. I've justified it to myself because of the ease and the certainty (no depressing damping-off of seedlings, being able to choose colors by seeing plants in bloom before buying, etc.). And I know that it would take years to save the money buying starts to finance even a very small, unheated greenhouse. But I still think I could start some in my basement. I have a few shelves with grow lights that I've used to start vegetables in late spring with; maybe I can start some petunias and impatiens too? It'll be a project, one that will only cost a few dollars, and, if I fail, I'll just buy annual starts like usual -- there's really no downside to experimenting.
The other usual activity for gardeners to undertake in the autumn is the planning, purchasing and planting of spring-flowering bulbs: tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, alliums, etc. Every year, those bright, colorful pictures on the packages turn me into a kid in a candy shop (usually with as little self-control as a kid -- with a credit card).
I generally have gotten most of my bulbs in past years at Menards, a local home improvement store, but a few weeks ago I walked into Costco and discovered their bulb display. Although their selection is limited, their bulbs are a much larger size and some are an even better deal price-wise. I usually also browse the catalog of and sometimes order from John Scheepers or their wholesale company, Van Engelen. Their bulbs can't be beat for selection and size/quality (although Costco's bulbs are their equal in size, impressively).
|I suppose my splurge could have been worse....|
After my splurge, I sat down with paper and pencil and inventoried what I had purchased, made a list of where I wanted to plant bulbs, and decided which bulbs should go in each place. I'm still working on this and may still buy a few more things (I especially wanted to plant some Leucojum aestivum 'Gravetye Giant' after seeing it down in Texas last January, and only the catalog companies stock it).
Anyway, Autumn is indeed here, although if we're lucky, there will still be a few more weeks of decent weather to enjoy before it gets colder. Then, it's time to tuck in the last few bulbs, put away the hoses and gardening tools, and snuggle in for a long winter, while the garden sleeps its long slumber.
|Still a few weeks left of flowers, if we're lucky. The zinnias, marigolds and salvias in the Rainbow Border are still gloriously in flower, which is a joyous thing to see in October.|
I hope you are enjoying the transitions to Autumn in your own gardens, and that winter will be cozy -- and short -- for us all. Thanks for reading! -Beth