Today we set the clocks back one hour. Now all I must do is get through the next four months or so when the days are not as short as they soon will be. But, thankfully, the weather is rather nice, and I have been able to work in the garden.
The large silver maple was cut down a few weeks ago and I have utilized 95% of the wood in the garden. The arborist cut the multiple trunks down in manageable pieces, some halved, others quartered, and I used these to line the pathways. The larger branches have been cut into four to six-foot pieces and I intertwined these to line other beds and paths. While this wood will decay over time, for now it provides shelter for insects, toads and other living organisms. It also looks rather nice, although it will look even better over time (next year?) when perennials start growing over logs here and there.
When we moved in, the spot around the silver maple was the only shady spot in my back garden. Now it will be the sunniest spot. All the shade loving perennials planted near the tree two years ago will be very unhappy come spring. Thankfully, I have new shady spots in the garden and today I relocated large pulmonaria (lungwort) to their new locations under large shrubs and (still smallish) trees.
Fall adds a whole new dimension to my garden; colors I didn't see before. Seemingly overnight last week parts of my garden turned yellow and orange. Hostas, some irises and ornamental grasses now glow buttery yellow while my witch hazels (Hamamelis) broke out in near orange. Only days later a severe storm blew through and scattered all of its leaves but all along the stems you can already see the promise of spring; buds ready to open with fragrant yellow flowers. They will arrive just in time when this gardener's heart needs it most, in late winter, when I can't stand another day of gloomy winter weather.
The dogwood tree (Cornus kousa) also promises spring flowers by the bushel as I can see buds everywhere, but now it is showing off its fall splendor: ruby red leaves. In the late afternoon sunshine, the tree almost glows! Off to the left of the dogwood three Viburnums (variety Winterthur) are also turning colors, bright scarlet red. Last fall, after experiencing dry conditions for months on end, their color was muddy and disappointing. What a difference a very wet year makes in the garden! While the crab apple (Malus, variety Prairie fire) already lost all of its leaves, the bright red fruits will entice birds come winter.
My bulbs arrived earlier this week and I started planting them right away. First there were the small bulbs, grape hyacinths, which needed only shallow holes. Since grape hyacinths make the biggest impact in larger numbers, I planted them close to each other and in swaths. Puddles of blue will break out in spring as they bloom and bees will rejoice with an early source of nectar. Once those 200 bulbs were planted, I took a break and continued the next morning with Dutch irises and Iris reticulata. Time for another break after those were planted and the next morning I started with the daffodils. These were much bigger bulbs, which required deeper and bigger holes. Two days later all 150 daffodil bulbs were planted, mostly in the front garden where they will give me the biggest bang for my buck early in the spring season.
I am also staying on top of weeding. The ground is still soft (especially after the downpour two days ago) and weeds come out of the ground with roots intact with little effort. As shrubs lose their leaves it is easy to see if there are any weeds hiding around the plants and it’s just as easy to get rid of them. With less work to do in the garden, I welcome the weeding. A bit of work now will save me time next spring when instead I will be able to enjoy all those spring flowers from bulbs. Of course, there is that OTHER season still to get through, but maybe reading my gardening books will make the time go faster and banish those winter blues. I can hope, right?