Putting the gardens to bed for the winter

Published 9:00 am Sunday, October 26, 2014

Serendipity Gardens by Carol Hegel Lang

It’s time to put the gardens to bed for the winter, and saying goodbye to them always makes me sad. All the hard work is forgotten and the beauty that was there is now only a memory until we start a new gardening season next spring. Here we are, the last week of October, and hopefully all my garden chores are completed. The 50 lily bulbs arrived and were planted, the garden shed has been unloaded and repacked with all of the garden ornaments and containers, some of the flowers have been cut back and others will be left standing until spring and we even have our Christmas lights up. I always have a good feeling when everything is done before the cold weather arrives and I don’t have to be working in the gardens with heavy jackets and mittens.

Colorful foliage on hostas in Lang’s fall garden. She said this particular hosta is a blue one which is very drab during the summer but the fall color is gorgeous. – Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

Colorful foliage on hostas in Lang’s fall garden. She said this particular hosta is a blue one which is very drab during the summer but the fall color is gorgeous. – Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

Even though it was another strange year of weather, the gardens did very well and I am so pleased with how the new hydrangeas have fared and with the renovation of the front garden. The bird feeders have been hung up and stocked as well as the suet feeders in preparation for the cold winter that will arrive way too soon. This past season I had to take down most of the feeders because the raccoons invaded them every evening and have missed seeing lots of birds that normally inhabit my gardens.

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As the weather starts to get cooler in late September I will begin moving some of the more susceptible containers closer to the house to protect them from frost to enjoy them a bit longer. This also gives me the chance to try out new combinations of plants as they will be moved to a new location. I also do this with some of the garden ornaments also. This time I put the small clay hippo container that had a lime green sedum planted in it among the purple alyssum at the front of the oval garden. The alyssum was in three different shades of purple and with the lime green color it was a gorgeous combination that I will use again next year when I plant the strawberry jar with both of these plants.

It seems like I am always moving garden ornaments around until I find just the perfect location for them. This time the copper pinwheel was moved from the front of the oval garden way to the back of the yard in the raised bed where it can be seen from several locations in the garden and it is not competing with the tall lilies that were in the oval garden. At the end of the driveway I have a pedestal planter that I moved to the newly renovated front garden for the winter and I like the location so well that it will stay there for next year and I will plant another bobo hydrangea in it for some interest year round. As I’ve said before, “A garden is never truly finished.”

Carol Hegel Lang

Carol Hegel Lang

Keeping a garden journal really helps in remembering what plants did well, which ones did poorly and also just color combinations and ideas to use next season. Not only do I keep written records, but I also photograph the gardens weekly and even now as they have died down it will help me to see places that I could plant additional things next year. My journal is like a Bible to me as I record when things are blooming, weather conditions, pests that affect individual plants and my own feelings about new plants and where they are located in the garden. I would be lost without this journal as my memory from one season to the next always seems to fail me. If you don’t journal why not try it next season and then photograph your gardens too, you will be amazed at what you forget.

“Last night, there came a frost, which has done great damage to my garden… It is sad that Nature will play such tricks on us poor mortals, inviting us with sunny smiles to confide in her, and then, when we are entirely within her power striking us to the heart”. — Nathaniel Hawthorne


Carol Hegel Lang is a green thumb residing in Albert Lea. Her column appears weekly. Email her at carolhegellang@gmail.com.