To do, today and tomorrow

Don’t bother me, I’m busy! There’s no time to visit, no guests permitted. Not until the leaves are raked, chopped, hauled, and piled in the compost heap.Kousa dogwood fall foliage

The dahlias, cannas, and elephant ears have been dug, cleaned, dried, and now must be bagged with dry leaves and set on shelves in the garage nearest the house to prevent their freezing. This is an easy one.Dahlias, elephant ears, and banana roots ready for storage

A forest of maples and poplars borders this one acre garden to the southeast. Beech and birch, katsura and ginkgo, black gum, cherry, dogwood, and Japanese maples small and large planted over twenty years drop a sufficient number of leaves to keep the gardener occupied for some weeks to come.Okushimo Japanese maple in November

The driveway and  front walk were cleared first, then a path was made from the deck to the two stone patios, crossing the divide between stone slabs that bridge the upper pond, and then down stone steps to the lower patio. I have walked this path thousands of times, but nearly stepped into the pond and tumbled down the leaf covered steps in the past week.

Leaves from the paths have been shredded, then bagged and hauled to the nearly full open air compost bins. Much of the garden remains leaf covered, and though these will be chopped and left in place to compost, this chore will consume my daylight hours for the next week or two. Then, there will be time to rest.Blueberry fall foliage

The remnants of the late season hurricane that swept through over three days this past week has made leaf clean up more challenging. When leaves are dry they are raked and chopped with relative ease. Wet leaves mat down and clog the shredder, so the task has been made more time consuming.

I’ll try to keep a positive attitude, but leaf clean up feels more like work, and less like gardening.

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2 thoughts on “To do, today and tomorrow

  1. What should I do with my hydrangeas. I have both Endless Summer and the other varieties. The Endless Summer has more than once suffered deer damage despite my spraying. Still the bush remains. The others are in much better condition with the dried flowers from the past season still on the branches. Should I prune?

    Thank you for your excellent column and beautiful pictures.

    Beverly Heneghan

  2. Endless Summer hydrangeas bloom on new growth, so pruning will not preclude blooming next year. Most hydrangeas flower on buds formed immediately following flowering, so there is never a good time to prune without removing the buds for the next year.

    In any case, I would not prune your hydrangeas until early spring, after winter injury is evident. They will often suffer some dieback to the soft wood from the prior year’s growth, and this dead is only obvious in late winter and early spring. If you wait until late April to prune, the new leaf buds are usually starting to swell, and so it is easy to prune just above a live bud.

    Regarding your deer problem, I have been very successful with a monthly spray beginning the first of May. Even with above normal rainfall this spring this program was successful. I have seen similar success in areas where the deer population is a bigger problem than my neighborhood, even with deer favorites such as hostas.

    I don’t think that the type of repellent is as important as keeping to a strict monthly regimen. My wife reminds me the first of the month that it’s time to spray, and of course, I always listen to her.

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