Spring gets all the attention as the busy gardening season, what with all the planting and weeding and such, but I find that fall, with its year-end maintenance and next-year preparation, is really the most active gardening season. Or maybe I just feel that way because I'm woefully behind on all sorts of gardening tasks. But I swear this has happened many years in a row...
Anyway, being the very left-brained person that I am, I made a to-do list of garden activities, just like I do for all my activities. Here's how it looks:
1. Plant Erythronium dens-canis bulbs: check.
These bulbs need to be planted early, or at least that what Brent & Becky's Bulbs said, so they promptly sent the bulbs to me at the beginning of September, I promptly planted them, and some chipmunks promptly stole some. I'm pretty sure it was a chipmunk because we have a number of them living in our yard and I just caught one trying to dig up an iris recently. However, since the theft of the few Erythroniums, I haven't seen any evidence of more being taken. So if a couple get stolen, I'm over it. I'll sacrifice a small number to support the local wildlife. But if they come back for more, then it's war.
2. Plant other bulbs and bare-root perennials: no check.
This is actually out of my hands; these bulbs and plants haven't arrived yet. But they will soon. There's 'El Cid' tulips, 'City of Haarlem' hyacinths, and some Nectaroscordum siculum spp. Bulgaricum that I'm really excited about. These allium-looking flowers have dangling, rather exotic flowers, sort of a bigger, flashier version of Allium cernuum. I also have a number of native plants coming from Prairie Moon Nursery to go in the newly created border along the south end of my yard and the front border. Which reminds me, how can I forget...
3. Enlarge the front border: no check.
When we moved in, this house had the completely stereotypical suburban foundation plantings: yew bushes clipped into a weird trapezoid-type shape in a "border" that was barely a foot wide. No other plants were growing, except for a few random yellow and pink tulips. We cut down a couple of the yews, but removing all of them would be a logistical nightmare and it's a task that I am not physically able to accomplish by myself. So I have learned to live with the yews. But, every year I have widened this border inch by inch, centimeter by centimeter, and I have learned the hard way that removing live sod is a horrible and painful task.
(You call that a garden?)
So this year I'm going to be smart, I told myself, and I will smother the grass in fall and nurture the ground with compost, mulch, and leaf litter all winter and into the spring, when I will then plant in the prepared and nutrient-rich border. Unfortunately, I haven't done anything to accomplish this yet. This is definitely the most labor intensive and important task awaiting my attention.
4. Divide the toad lily (Tricyrtis 'Tojen'): no check.
I received this lovely plant recently from Mr. McGregor's Daughter. I should have divided it in the first place to create more lovely specimens for myself, but instead I hurriedly plunked it in the ground and now I've been watching the stems droop in various directions because it's too large for the shoddy planting job that I did.
In a testament to how resilient this plant is, it's been blooming voraciously despite my negligence.
(Toad lily being a good sport.)
It deserves better, and I need to dig it up, divide it, and properly and carefully replant the divided sections.
5. Repot and bring in tender perennials: no check.
I have been gushing about my coleus all year, and I know I don't have the heart to toss the whole beauty onto the compost pile. Instead I'm going to try overwintering the showiest specimens to be replanted next year.
I also have a spearmint plant (that was almost smothered by the coleus in an ill-conceived container planting), which I'm afraid to plant in the herb garden because of its thuggish nature. I've been nursing it back to health after its near-death experience, and it's time to repot it in a smaller pot and bring it indoors where it won't assault any other plants and I can enjoy fresh spearmint during the winter.
6. Harvest herbs: partial check.
I have been cutting and drying lots of chamomile, but I still have oregano, basil, lemon balm, and lavender hyssop to harvest and dry.
(Among the weeds and the leaves, there are herbs to be harvested.)
7. MULCH: no check.
This spring I was adamant about mulching, and as the season has passed I've gotten lazier about it. Case in point: the half-mulched border where I removed all those rocks earlier this summer. There's also the new south border and the front that needs replenishing, and with a free pile of locally made mulch sitting literally at the end of my street, I have no reason to be so lazy about this crucial gardening task!
(What's wrong with this picture?)
Well, I think that's about it. Oh, except for cutting back mildewy foliage, pulling out annuals and getting them to the compost bin, and figuring out how to keep my peppers from freezing before the copious fruits get to maturity. I guess I should quit writing and get out there! Do you have a to-do list? If so, how's it look?