Sunday, October 21, 2018

It's Mid-October already... Frost! and other updates

My view from sitting on the sunny steps in my Paradise Garden, last week, with roses, marigolds and lovely pink flowering tobacco that flowered for five months.

Hello everyone, I don't know where the last month has gone since my last post, but we're certainly in the middle of Autumn now, aren't we? I've been preoccupied with trying to finish my book about Iowa garden history (and get image permissions, write a book proposal, find a publisher...). Researching and writing the book was the easy part!

But here's an update about what's been happening in my gardens in the past month:

The Pond Garden:

As you may recall from an earlier post, my Pond Garden area needed to be completely renovated. The pond liner leaked, and the four L-shaped beds had been invaded by grass that couldn't be weeded out.

Back in May, my long-suffering husband helped me dig out the water lilies that had taken over the pond.

We replaced the liner, and dug out the stones around the four beds. And there things remained for the rest of the hot summer.

Finally at the beginning of October when it was cool enough to tackle big jobs like this, we replaced the paving stones around the four beds. The pavers around the pond itself still need be adjusted a bit, but at least they're largely in place.

We installed metal edging around all four L-shaped beds as we were replacing the paving stones. This was a rather big job, but with any luck, the edging will inhibit the grass from taking over the beds again.

I still need to plant in the Pond Garden beds the nearly 200 Dianthus 'Sweetness' replacement plants I started from seed earlier in the year. Here they were back in July, and they're still sitting in exactly the same spot next to my house. This week I really hope to get those in the ground, and then next spring I can replace the garden phlox 'Bright Eyes' that were also planted in those beds.

The Greenhouse:

Another project that I hope I've taken care of is fixing my greenhouse:

Here it was back in late September, after the wind AGAIN blew out several of the panels and ripped off the entire door. The plastic and tape I wrapped around the greenhouse last spring did keep some of the panels from blowing out, but it was starting to come loose too. It was time to try something else.

I read online about how other people try to keep their greenhouse panels from repeatedly blowing out (it happens to most greenhouses of this design), and thought this idea of using wood to reinforce the panels was a good idea. I drilled through the metal supports at the corners of the greenhouse frame, and used screws to attach the ends of these wood 2x2s I had lying around onto the frame corners. I then attached each polycarbonate panel to the wood by screwing through each panel from the inside, using large washers. I then reattached the door. We'll see how this holds up through the winter....

The Last of the Beautiful Flowers, before.... Frost!

I've been enjoying some last beautiful, sunny days in my Paradise Garden over the past few weeks, knowing that soon enough it will be time to put this garden away for the winter:

The flowers still looked beautiful in the Paradise Garden in mid-October, although I had already moved the orange tree from this garden inside my basement in late September.

The marigolds were lovely, attracting a few last little white butterflies.

The last of the roses....

But the nights got colder and colder, dipping down below 32°F/0°C a few times....

The light frosts got the nasturtiums first...

...although there were still a few sunny days to enjoy the garden. I found myself gravitating toward the sunny steps in front of the sunroom, not sitting in the shady pergola as I had during the heat of summer. I think I may replace that "stairway to nowhere" with a proper bench next spring.

This morning I woke up to 25°F / -4°C, which finished off most of the annual flowers.

It's time to remove the remains of the annual flowers: the petunias, nasturtiums, marigolds and flowering tobacco. (Does anyone else plant that pink flowering tobacco? It bloomed beautifully with a wonderful scent from June to October here -- why isn't it more commonly planted?)

After the annuals are out, I'll be able to plant the tulips, narcissus and hyacinths that are waiting to be planted, so that next year I'll have something lovely to admire while sitting on the sunny steps in early spring (until I replace those steps with a proper bench, that is).

Last night we watched the last episode of the season of Gardener's World with Monty Don and his adorable dogs, Nigel and Nellie -- it really is the end of the gardening season once again, isn't it? Time to finish off the last jobs outside and move our attention to indoor pursuits:

All my tropical plants are now back inside my sunroom, where the low angle of the sun once again streams through the windows to make sunny days a pleasure to spend in here.

Here's to sunny winter days....

I hope you are enjoying the autumn in your gardens in these last weeks of flowers, getting your last projects finished, and that you're still enjoying some sunny days, whether outside or from the comfort of inside through your windows. Thanks for reading! -Beth


  1. I love the photos of your Paradise Garden, it is really heavenly. Then your sunroom, such a geat place to sit and linger about how the garden will look like next year. The lay-out of your pondgarden is magnificent I just can imagine how it will look like when the Dianthuses are flowering next year, and the view over the land........ I think this is a dreamgarden.

    1. Thanks, Janneke, for all your kind words! Hope you are well, -Beth

  2. The paradise garden filled in quite well by the end of the season! We've had just a light frost so far here, along with an inch of snow (which actually came before the first frost), so the most tender plants were knocked down, but others are still holding on.

    Let me know how the greenhouse does this winter, it would be nice to have a lean-to green house in one of the courtyards.

    1. Hello Br. Placidus, I was amazed to read about your snow on your blog! I hope you are still enjoying a few sunny days after that strange episode. I'm sure you could make good use of a greenhouse in your productive flower gardens -- although I really only use mine in the early spring, during March and April, to keep seedlings growing on until they can be planted out. Hope you are well, Best, -Beth

    2. Spring in the midwest is always a bit bipolar, so we're alternating between 70s and 40s for awhile, dipping into the 30s at night.

      I've been meaning to ask, what is the cultivar of that pink tobacco?

    3. I got them at Select Seeds:
      I wonder if I'll ever have to buy them again, if they will reseed like the white ones, or come true -- but I'll still probably buy them again next spring, so I can start them in flats to put them exactly where I want them. I hope they do well for you too!

  3. You've got a glorious splash of colour to end the season and the sunroom looks a good place to be now that the weather is turning cold. I have been busy cramming my tender plants under cover, but not as well placed as yours because I'm very short of space. You have put in a great deal of work with the pond area - but how nice it will look when next summer comes around!

    1. Thanks so much for visiting, and for your kind comments! I'm sure your own tender plants will make it through another winter to be enjoyed next summer again. Hope you are enjoying a few last sunny days in your gardens this season. Best, -Beth

  4. Your Paradise garden is looking wonderful.I grow the Whisper nicotiana too and I love them, they make a gorgeous show for weeks. Soon you will be enjoying your wonderful sun room again, what a fabulous winter retreat.

    1. Hi Chloris, I'm glad to read that someone else grows those nicotiana too -- I just couldn't be the only one to discover such a great plant... Thanks for stopping by! -Beth

  5. Hi Beth, I so enjoyed seeing the green/tropical sunroom. I'm sure you and your family are enjoying it a lot this winter. We have had a lot of snow here too: about 45" to date. We are ready for gardening/spring weather. I ordered a fig tree yesterday (and seeds) from Park Seed. It's a hardy fig to zone 5. If I recall correctly, I think you have an olive tree and perhaps a fig in containers in your Paradise Garden. Stay warm, hang in there, it won't be long till the snowdrops and crocus and winter aconite begin to appear! At least that's what I keep telling myself! Best Regards, Beth