Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Diary October 2011 - Autumn

I started this blog in 2005 because I wanted to design my "retirement garden".  Who would have thought that Retirement which had seemed sooooooo very far down the road would be here this quickly? But - here I am. Retired!!!
I don't plan to re-design anything just yet nor do we plan to downsize, so instead I will continue to take care of the huge garden I have now and give you any tips that I learn along the way.
I have already been out in the garden numerous hours and really enjoyed myself. But my goodness! You can tell I designed this garden 23 years ago - I had a lot more energy then and no mobility problems.
Well - things are different now but I hope to be able to do a bit every day instead of trying to squash everything into Saturdays and Sundays. It should make planting and weeding much more enjoyable.
The 2 main things I needed to do before the snows fly were (a) plant my new spring bulbs and (b) cut down the perennials.
Before I do a Show and Tell of what daffodils and tulips I planted, let me give you a few tips of what to do and what NOT to do in the fall in the garden.
1. Plant spring bulbs as long as the ground is still soft and workable (ideal month is September)
2. Rake leaves off the lawn and put them into the compost heap or into paper Yard Waste bags and have them taken away.
3. Pull out annuals and if not diseased, put in compost. If diseased, throw them away.
4. Cut perennials to the ground to prevent hibernation of pesky bugs. DO NOT cut roses to the ground (check google for proper procedures. I could devote a whole column to rose care alone)
5. Cut grasses down or not, but be aware that as the winter comes on, they will dry out and start blowing around the yard
6. Dig out any weeds and dispose of them. This will give you great head start in the spring.
7. Lightly mulch beds and any fragile plants you have
8. As a rule, do not cut back shrubs until spring or summer, depending on when they bloom
9. Do not fertilize anything in the fall
10. Water heavily if it's a dry fall. If there's plenty of rain, you'll be OK. Water under the eaves and under trees, though, and any other areas that seem dry.
11. Bring your clay pots into the shed or garage or they will split and crack over the winter and spring.

There's lots more advice I could give you (you can look up more on the Internet) but that should be enough to keep your garden clean, healthy and attractive over winter.

OK - now the fun part!!! Look what I bought and planted early this month!

Tulips first (I don't plant as many as I used to because they are a squirrel's gourmet lunch) but there are some I just can't live without.


Blushing Girl:

Flaming Parrot (I would have preferred Estella Rynfeld, but I couldn't find any!)

Queen of the Night

Small, early 12" Red Riding Hood tulips (let's hope the rabbits don't chew them up in the spring)

Dwarf Iris "Harmony"

And then a whole slew of Daffodils or Narcissus:

Mount Hood


King Alfred

Ice Follies

February Gold




and Hawera

They range in height from 8" (dainty Hawera) to 16" Suzy and King Alfred. I love Thalia because it's so fragrant and Tahiti because it looks exotic.
Squirrels and other critters love tulips but find daffodils, crocus and other small bulbs bitter so they leave them alone. Another reason to plant more daffodils than tulips is that they multiply into clumps and get bigger over the years. The new hybridized tulips often have no fragrance and "peter out" after 4-5 years. (only leaves come up in yr 4 or 5 - no stalk and no flower). If you are lucky enough to have moved into an old home with an old garden, you may have the  "old" style tulips from the 60's and earlier. They are strong, fragrant and return year after year.
So here is our beautiful Ontario fall - lovely sunny warm days that may stay well into November. Then rotten old winter comes but by planting bulbs, you already have something to look forward to just a few months later!