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