Marty's Garden, September 24th, 2018


Well, it is official, summer has come and gone. The days are getting shorter, some hostas are yellowing and getting ready to do their underground snooze. Others, however, are pushing out new growth and I even see a few flowers on some of them. But then there are the first red leaves on the trees. Fall is here!


The first caterpillars have made their transition from eating machine into chrysalis to butterfly. A swallowtail caterpillar picked a spot next to the front door for its metamorphosis and in less than a week a new butterfly was “born”. Talk about having a front row seat to watch a miracle. 


I continue to check the window wells in the basement for frogs. There are still a few who make the leap into the well and need rescuing, something I always enjoy and, occasionally, document!

green frog from window well


Making the rounds at nurseries and big box stores I find bargains. First, I picked up five asters at 50% off, even though it was early in the season and the plants were still in full bud. Then, a few weeks later I come across the bargain rack at Lowe’s; $3 hydrangeas and a week later $1 hydrangeas. Then I hit the jackpot: $1 and $5 hostas (small and extra-large plants!) and $1 and $3 asters and rudbeckias. I spent $25 on something which would have cost me $120 only weeks earlier and we are not talking about half dead plants either. Sure, they had a few dried-up leaves, a few flowers past their prime, but overall, they are healthy plants, with good root growth and plenty of life left in them for this fall season and many more years to come. I cut off the spent flowers, took off dried and shriveled up leaves and found spots for all of them. The asters are in the new garden in the front, hostas are underplanted around shrubs and the hydrangeas found a home on corners of the pink bed on the side of the house. There is no need to coddle them as they get used to their new spots; we continue to have -as I call it- Dutch weather, grey, cool and wet. Perfect weather for planting, not so great for growth.


My tropical annuals, the castor bean plants, remain diminutive. Last year two of them outgrew their spot and I had to “prune” them to get around them. This year the tallest tops out at four feet, but most remain around two. Their color is bright red, but the effect of multiple castor bean plants in the back of the front garden bed is negated by their small stature. I should have had a tall row of castor beans behind a green screen of forsythia, but instead I have a few small plants hidden behind the greenery. Rats! Next year I will try again, and if we have warmer weather (as in a REAL summer) my vision may come to fruition.


As our neighbors have been dealing with soggy, wet lawns and puddles, some regrading of back yards is being done. A swale is added to our neighbor’s backyard and now water from multiple houses drains into the swale and disappears within 48 hours. I get some leftover top-grade soil and fill a few low spots in my garden.


 There are not many tasks that remain to be done this year; plant bulbs once they arrive, put the wood of the silver maple to good use once the tree comes down and one more load of mulch to be put down in the garden. Slowly, but surely, my gardening year is coming to an end. Time for a short break and then I will start gardening in the basement. I will surround myself with house plants which are brought back inside and cultivate cuttings from annuals to grace my garden next year. Oh, and I will have time to read gardening books, lots of them!