Sunday, November 16, 2008

More Fall Chores

Most of the leaves are off my trees and neighbor Dave and I were out raking yesterday in our respective gardens. I put the patio furniture away and the hose and really started battening down for the winter. When we first moved here a friend of mine said of this time of year, "Say good bye to your neighbors because you won’t see them until spring! They hibernate, too!" And she was right. Unlike other parts of the country where people really enjoy winter sports, we don’t here. I suppose it has to do with the dreary, gray days. (Mr. Ross tells me that in most parts of the country backing up to high tension power lines results in lower appraisal values for houses, except in Minnesota where it is considered a bonus because it makes for great snow mobile trails.)

Well, I guess what keeps us going is knowing that in six months spring will be here and our gardens, like us, will be springing back to life. I am already starting to plan for next year and my leaves are helping out. I want to put in a mixed herbaceous border, as they say in England, so I need to get rid of some grass in the back. Mike in the greenhouse department gave me this tip so I am trying it out this year. When he puts in a new planting area, he spreads newspaper over the area and then piles leaves on top. By spring the leaves and paper have smothered the grass and then you can till in the decomposing leaves to help amend the soil. So this week I have 3 bags of leaves for the city to pick up, whereas neighbor Dave has seven.
It is pretty shady back there and I want plants with brighter foliage to lighten the area up. I will be planting lots of the gold tone and chartreuse hostas and hakonechloa grass in addition to the limelight hydrangea and itea shrubs that I planted last spring. One thing to keep in mind when planning a new bed or landscape is to think about what the area will look like when not in its prime. What is there to capture the eye at that time. This is a piece of statuary from my old house. It looks great mixed in with the plants, but it also gives me something to look at during the winter. I can see this area from my kitchen window so I do see it through all seasons.
I also planted the last of my bulbs. I had a few daffodils and crocus bulbs left over from my bulb forcing project last month so I got them planted as well. (Last month I planted some bulbs in a container to force them to bloom earlier than they normally would. I had them in the refrigerator until last week when I moved them to the cellar steps, where they would stay cold but not freeze.) I used a bulb auger attached to my electric drill to dig the holes for the left over bulbs. I have a few planted up the beds on either side of my front door, but to change it up a bit, I planted these last few in the lawn right in front of the raised planters. I accidently dug up one that I had planted earlier and was pleased to note that the roots had really started to develop. So that is one other thing I have to look forward to this spring.

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