Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sparkling the Autumn Garden

Summer flew by in record time. Yesterday we were planning and prepping our beds for summer gardening. Today we're bemoaning the very first frost-blackened tips and thinking...ok, time to put energy to clean-up!

There is a special beauty to the autumn garden. Overblown Impatiens against colorful foliage...Dahlias doing what they do, on steroids, in neon overdrive...even the cover of fallen leaves on the garden the autumn sun casts a sparkle upon the earth...and the invigorating smell of it all. If you can wait til a complete frost to attend to end of season chores, then by all means do. That means removing or cutting back those annual and perennial plants that are gone by, allowing those that are still respectable to show off. A bit of thought to the interplay of forms and colors at this time of year, when grooming the garden, is a worthy effort.

Leave Hydrangeas intact until we're assured of an overnight frost. Then cut the heads, with stems...before the frost!!... and bring a bundleful indoors. Remove foliage, put directly into a big bowl and enjoy the carmine, lime, cream, and violet hues all winter.

Someone on a side street in Chestnut Hill has smartly...or serendipitously...combined raspberry red Mums with what remains of a planting of summer's bright orange "Fire" Profusion Zinnias. Wish I had a photo to share. Delicious.

Consider the Dahlia...take quiet time this winter to peruse some of the many fine catalogs available online (my favorite resource is Swan Island Dahlias ). Growers and hybridizers convey their passion with brilliant photos of out-of-this-world blooms and exuberant new introductions. You'll be hard-pressed to turn away, even if you're aware of the tedious staking and deadheading (and digging in fall if you want to re-use the tubers) required to keep this class of plants vital and producing. Once the weather cools, Dahlias put on a razzle dazzle show unlike anything else in the plant world. Bouquet combinations are unlimited.

In the next few posts, we'll discuss efficient and garden-smart ways to put your bit of the earth to bed for the winter.

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