A few days into November and there are still plants blooming in the garden. The clematis, which disappointed this hot and dry summer, makes up for it this late in the season. Then we get the first hard frost bringing the colorful display at an end.
One gigantic bed on the side of the house has been divided into two beds with a path in between. Because there is virtually nothing planted in the lower bed yet, I decide to take a page out of my gardening book from the previous garden; dig it up and leave it fallow during the winter. As I am digging, I see there is a nice layer of good soil about 2 to 3 inches thick on top of the heavy clay my garden is full of. I try to go at least one spade deep into the clay, moving it up to the top and let the dark, good soil fall to the bottom. Large clods of clay are cut into smaller pieces and over the winter frost will break this soil down further.
Over time the soil improves in my garden. Mulch in garden beds decompose, worms aerate the soil, microbes and fungi live and die in the soil, turning it all into rich humus-filled soil. Digging and mixing good topsoil with the lower layer of clay will speed up the process of getting a deeper layer of good soil. Then, come spring, I will dig it all up again and mix in compost. The plants going into this bed next spring will be off to a much better start than any of the other plants put in my garden to date. Actually, looking at this thick, thick clay it is amazing my garden is looking as good as it does. I guess all the bags of topsoil I have added to each planting hole every time I put in new plants, did help.
As I walk through the garden, I make notes from next year. A few Siberian Irises need to be dug up and moved to the front while my five feet tall Brown-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia) will be moved to their spot in the back. A few Astilbes would make a nice contrast with the other Japanese Irises in the rain garden; I will put them on my list of plants to get. The marigold variety called ‘Kees Orange’ looked great in my garden but grew a bit taller than I had expected. This winter I will start their seeds in pots so I can be precise in putting them where they won’t hide plants growing behind them. It’s that time of year again to read gardening books, keeping a notebook at hand for all those ideas I could implement in my garden…