October marks the end of the festivities for Ontario gardeners. Oh, it’s true that some of us have planted things even into January in desperate circumstances that shall not be discussed here. And yes, I know B.C. gardeners, how it is out there, gardening right through your balmy “winters” while your spouses golf–shhhhhh.
Here are a few things I suggest doing in this thankful, spooky and bittersweet month to bed your garden down for winter and, if applicable, burn off some turkey:
1. Dig up your ivy and annual geraniums in favourite colours from the garden and outdoor planters, so that you can grow them indoors in a sunny room through the winter. You can put the same geraniums out year after year and they never seem to die. I have one or two that came from my first Mother’s Day gift. Note that the relevant child has been in university for a while now.
The ivy grows nicely as a decorative cover for the soil in large indoor plant pots all winter and you can either clip and root it again to take out in spring, or just dig it up and move it back outdoors. Your choice.
2. Top dress and re-seed your lawn where it’s worse for wear. The lazy gardener sayeth: Mother Nature will water and nurse your new seeds along if you do it now, and you will not have to water or fuss while beautiful new grass germinates and forms a healthy root system before the drought of next summer.
3. Plant your bulbs if you haven’t. A little work now means a beautiful show in the spring.
4. Clip things back that look mangy, harbour mildew or drop too many seeds, such as Monarda, Bee Balm and the flower stalks of hostas. However, leave things you will enjoy through the fall and winter, like Russian Sage, tall grasses (second photo from bottom), hydrangeas (photo below) and Sedums.
5. Continue to deadhead things that may bloom for a while–roses and Echinacea, Purple Coneflower, come to mind.
6. Cut perennials (such as Delphiniums) that won’t withstand frost into indoor bouquets. Why waste?
7. Transplant shrubs and trees now, to minimize stress and give them time to establish roots while the climate is cool and moist.
8. Edge any unkempt garden/lawn areas. I say this because grass continues to creep into the garden in fall early spring and late winter, when we are nowhere near being ready to go outside and garden, and edging crisply now will save you from having to dig a lot of grass roots out of the garden later–again and again. This is the voice of experience speaking.
9. Never stop weeding. Weeds you leave will have multiplied by the hundreds by next year. Sorry.
This is not a complete list of fall garden chores–there are much more complete lists than mine available elsewhere, such as one I recently posted as a photo in my Twitter feed @patinaandcompan . These are just particular ideas I’d like to share.
You don’t have to wrap up your garden completely just yet–the hostas look decent ’till a worse frost hits. The roses can bloom into December. Winter baskets and decorations will encourage you to prune your evergreens and Dogwood after Hallowe’en, so no rush to clip those yet.
Enjoy the fall colours, and if you found this post useful, note that you can get subsequent posts in your inbox by clicking the “follow” button at right.