More landscaping

It’s that chilly time of year again, when gusts of wind blow your hair in your eyes, clouds scud threateningly across the sky, and all the beautiful leaves are nearly gone. The onset of winter. Who wants to be outside in that kind of weather?

Plants, of course, know that you’d rather be doing anything else. It’s the same sort of obstinacy that tells the basil just when you were thinking of taking a day off from gardening to spring into seed, and tells the weeping cherry that has been in glorious bloom for days to drop all its blossoms in the hour before your mother in law arrives to admire it. Plants wait until the coldest part of the year to need the most work done.* I’m convinced they have a scorecard where they tally points against the gardener… and I’m afraid I’m not winning.

That said, we did have a glorious day yesterday, with highs in the 50s and the beautiful kind of clear sunshine you only get as Fall draws to a close. And really, if it tends to be cold when I do most of my winter gardening, well, it probably wouldn’t be so cold if I wouldn’t procrastinate till February to get it done. -laugh-

So anyway, what’s this long harangue against winter gardening got to do with my own garden? Well, I spent a rare Saturday gardening all day long, and it was just glorious. I got a lot of plants moved… the black-eyed-susans that were suffering in the shade got divided into small clumps among the plants in the sunniest bed. I pushed the ornamental grass back a little ways to make space for a new acquisition, a fothergilla

Sidenote: Fothergilla’s not a plant I’ve been attracted to in the past, but it seems to fit the bill for adding structure, texture, and fall color to my undersized garden. It has beautiful and fragrant spring blooms, as well!

I was even vicious enough to heartlessly yank out some plants that just weren’t happy …. or that I wasn’t happy with. There was the suffering echinacea. I have enough of those already. A sad yarrow. The helenium I bought last year and loathe. A sulking baptisia. (It felt like cleaning house!) In their places I divided purple irises and planted deutzia gracilis ‘Nikko’ and an oakleaf hydrangea ‘Pee Wee’ – both more likely to enjoy the moist shade behind my shed than sunflowers did. (okay, sometimes my optimism is misguided).

Deutzia in bloom Pee Wee in a shade garden Pee Wee’s fall color

I also planted 50 bulbs: 30 tulips and 20 irises. I know, I was supposed to make a cutting garden in the Patch, but I just couldn’t resist trying for a huge blaze of color in my own back yard.

Only November, and I already can’t wait till Spring!

* The technical reason it’s good to get your “big” gardening done in the winter is because plants are dormant – or at least preparing for dormancy. Without the stress of needing constant nutrients, and striving to put out new leaves, they don’t mind if their roots are disturbed, and can tolerate a lot more shock. When springtime comes and they start really needing those roots, they’ve already started the healing process.

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