The season’s end


At the end of November there are camellias blooming, and ‘Winter Sun’ mahonia (below) is still a few weeks from its peak flowering, but otherwise the garden is pretty much kaput. Despite somewhat warmer than average temperatures in November (but not by much), the flowers on the Knockout roses have shriveled in the cold nights. With even warmer days forecast for the next few days there might be a few scattered blooms that pop out, but they won’t be around for long.

Almost all leaves have dropped from the deciduous trees, and even the Japanese maples and Chinese dogwoods that hold their leaves weeks later than other trees have gone bare. For eight months of the year neighboring homes disappear behind the dense foliage, but now they are clearly visible, though fortunately still partially screened by tall evergreens in the garden and the thick trunks of trees in the forest that borders the garden.

I have made a halfhearted attempt at clearing the fallen leaves, but there remains much to do. The small lawn areas are mostly clean, with leaves shredded by the mower and left to filter into the soil. The driveway and walkways have been swept clean, so now I don’t track too many damp leaves indoors, which prevents a considerable amount of fuss from my wife.

The pots of tropicals were brought indoors several weeks ago, except for a fern and philodendron (above) that were in concrete planters on the front walk that were forgotten because they had to be dug out and potted into another container. The philodendron is fine, with no damage at all, and the fern seems okay except for a bit of frost injury.

I resist bringing the tropical elephant ears and bananas indoors for the winter for as long as I can get away with it, though this year the weather cooperated and the chore was accomplished without much drama. The pots are heavy, dirty, and awkward to move, and usually the move is done in a panic with the sun going down and freezing temperatures forecast for the night. Once indoors, it’s sad to watch the lush plants deteriorate without adequate sunlight when they are sentenced to a semi dark winter in the basement. I dream of building a bright and warm greenhouse, but I know that I’m too cheap to actually have one constructed, much less pay to heat it.

This year I think that I’ve brought in a few less bugs with the pots than is the norm, though my wife disputes this. With the onset of cold weather we’ve been invaded by spiders, which of course are blamed on the the tropicals, and me. And we’ve had an abundance of little centipede type critters, which might indeed be centipedes, but I always suspect must be something else since certainly not every worm shaped beast with a bunch of legs is a centipede.

The garden’s ponds were covered with netting a day or two before the leaves of the towering maples were shed in a brisk breeze. The small ponds are easily cleaned in the spring if I’m tardy in keeping the leaves out, but the fifteen hundred square foot swimming pond has twenty thousand gallons of water, which would involve far too much effort and expense to clean. So, I’m especially attentive to watching the trees that surround the garden, though the day that the ponds are covered seems to declare that the gardening season is at its end.

There are still a few perennials waiting on the driveway to be planted, and probably those will be put into the ground this weekend. I’ve planted a few small trees recently, but aside from the continuing project to manage the fallen leaves I’m pretty much finished for the season. In another month I’ll begin to imagine new projects and new plants that must be added to the garden, and in early February the watch for the late winter’s first blooms will begin.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Donna says:

    Hi Dave,
    I really enjoy getting lost in your ramblings …nostalgic thoughts about gardens of my own, both present and past. Gardening is so cathartic, and your prose is just the icing on the cake! (Besides being an avid gardener, I’m also a “wife”, so really empathize with your need to have happy wife, happy life!)
    Happy Holidays! Donna
    P.S. love the pictures too

    1. Dave says:

      Oh my goodness! I have not intended for my wife to be a sympathetic figure, but the villain in this story. I play the heroic gardener who perseveres in the face of insurmountable odds. In any case, thanks for writing.

      1. Donna says:

        Watch out, Dave, your wife may be scheduling the two of you for Dr Phil’s or Dr Drew’s show. In the meantime, please persevere with your teachings!

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