Waiting for some frost

Published 9:00 am Sunday, October 25, 2015

The outhouse is decorated for fall with pumpkins and a colorful wreath as well as a yellow begonia. - Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

The outhouse is decorated for fall with pumpkins and a colorful wreath as well as a yellow begonia. – Carol Hegel Lang/Albert Lea Tribune

Serendipity Gardens by Carol Hegel Lang

As I am writing this column we still have not had a killing frost even though we have had temperatures in the mid 30s. The plants are still blooming, but later this week we do have a hard frost in the forecast so there will be frost on the pumpkins. The end of another growing year brings only memories of what was and thoughts of next spring and what is to come in this revolving gardening year.

Carol Hegel Lang

Carol Hegel Lang

Soon we will be raking leaves. If you are a gardener you will want to mulch them and then put them on your gardens so they break down over the winter adding nutrients back into your soil or as winter protection for your tender plants and roses. In November I will cut back my roses to about 12 inches or more. Then make wire cages to fit around them and fill with either shredded bark, pine needles or leaf mulch to give them added protection from the cold. This will also protect them from the freezing/thawing we see during the winter when the weather warms and then cools down again. My amber flower carpet roses have done very well and are still blooming prolifically and will need extra protection since they were just planted this past spring. The gardens have not received any rain the past three weeks, so I have been supplementing them by watering them well weekly and will continue to do so until the ground freezes.

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I bought seed for all of the feeders the other day and also restocked the suet feeders, as everyday more and more birds are visiting them. The three feral kittens have been stalking the trees with feeders hanging from them as they have learned well from their mama how to become self-sufficient and catch birds and mice to supplement their diet. I love both the birds and the cats, so it is really a tough dilemma for me this balance of nature thing. Sometimes it really breaks my heart — especially when I find a dead cardinal or chickadee under the feeders.

The garden chores are finally finished and everything is in the garden shed giving me time to finally sit back and read all of those gardening magazines that have been piling up over the summer months. That also means it is time for me to tackle all of those house chores that get overlooked when I am busy in the gardens. Over the years I have really become lax with some of them. I remember when I would brush down the walls, wash the curtains and blinds and really do a thorough cleaning job by moving out all of the furniture and vacuuming everything, but over the years I have decided that fall and spring house cleaning are not a priority for me. My family, pets, birds and gardens seem to have taken over the share of my life and indoor chores have taken a backseat.

In November I will look through the photos that I have taken of the gardens this past year and make decisions on things that I want to do differently next season. Already I have made notes in my journal of plants that I want to use in certain containers or different placement of some of the garden ornaments that will enhance the gardens. If I will open the gardens more or less to the public next year is also a decision that needs to be made. This year after the gardens were closed to the public Aug. 1, we had visitors all but two days during that month. Maybe I need to keep them open through the month of August.

The leaves have been lovely in our neighborhood this year, and I have enjoyed all of them. My tiger eye sumac has been really going through a color change this year with lime green, yellow and orange and even a tiny bit of red. Slowly the Japanese maple has been turning blood red while the Pagoda dogwood is a lovely burgundy color. My Major Wheeler honeysuckle even has bright orange berries on it, much to my delight. These two vines have taken a long time to establish themselves, but once they did have provided lots of blooms that were enjoyed by the hummingbirds and now the pretty berries. The oakleaf hydrangea is also taking its time turning burgundy this year with the warm weather we have had.

“The musky scent of leaves brought to mind jack-o’-lanterns, kids collecting treats and witches flying across a full moon.”  — Anita Robinson


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