Oh rats; how time flies. It’s almost the end of October and the gardening season pretty much has come to an end. I clean up some annuals and throw them on the compost heap. I deadhead the roses, knowing full well the few buds left on the shrubs probably won’t open and there are no more blooms in the near future. I treasure the roses on my Queen Elizabeth still blooming but I can’t bring myself to cut them off and bring them in.
Leaves are turning red, yellow, crimson or just plain falling off. Since we still haven’t had the first hard frost, some annuals are still going strong. I treasure them, knowing they have previous little time left before they turn to mush. I keep an eye out for weeds; it always pays to stay on top of weeds. Weeds creeping through the sedum meadow get dug out and are discarded. After a day of much needed rain the weeds easily pop out of the ground, making the gardener’s job so much easier.
The temperature of the water in the pond has dropped to the mid-sixties; still warm enough for the fish to feed. Once it drops to the mid-fifties, the fish will stop swimming around so much. Not long thereafter they will stop feeding altogether, start hiding in the bottom of the pond and prepare for a long winter’s snooze. The pond service came this week and winterized the pond; equipment has been shut down except for one pump which will provide oxygen in two places all winter long. Once temperatures drop enough for the pond to freeze over, this pump will agitate the water enough to create two holes in the ice, allowing fish (and hibernating frogs) to breathe and stay alive. If you have a pond with fish, never, ever let the pond surface freeze over solid, or you will lose your fish (unfortunately that has happened to me once!). Now when I go outside, I am no longer greeted by the sound of falling water over rocks. It takes some getting used to and when everything gets turned back on in late March or early April, I am always happy to hear the rush of water again.
The dahlias, planted in late spring, grew over the summer and while they didn’t flower much because of a lack of moisture (they liked the heat), they made up for it when we finally got rain. I used six-foot rebar as stakes for two plants, thinking it would be more than enough. Ha! With two feet of rebar in the ground and four foot above, my dahlias grew, and then grew some more until they were way above my head. I think next year I will invest in eight, if not, ten-foot rebar. But oh, what a sight to see when they are blooming their hearts out! Now I will have to wait till the first hard frost, which kills the top growth. Then it is time to cut down the stalks, carefully dig out the roots (technically called tubers), brush off excess soil and let them sit upside down for a few days before storing them in a cardboard or plastic container in a cool place. Last year I stored my tubers in slightly damp shredded paper in a plastic container with the lid not quite covering the entire container. Every month I would check it. If it was dry and the tubers felt a bit shriveled, I would mist the tubers. If they were ok, I left them alone until the next check a month later. Fast forward six plus months, mid to late May, and it is time to plant them out in the garden again for another floriferous show. Meanwhile, however, we peruse magazines, read about other gardens, and wait for the days we can see the first spring flowers. It’s going to be a long wait!