Author Linda Cobb
Master Gardener Linda Cobb

Linda Cobb is a garden writer and certified Master Gardener who lives in Spartanburg, South Carolina. She is the author of My Gardener's Guide: Easy Steps to a Better Garden.

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Our Garden by Linda Cobb

Fall in the Garden

Just because it is Fall, don't think that it is the end of the garden season. Read on to see how you can spruce up the garden, the porch, and even the steps to the door. Surround yourself with the fall color.

Don’t spend any time beating your self up if this wasn’t your greatest gardening year.  It was one of the most difficult years ever.  Some years just seem easier when you look back on them.  The drought was intolerable and caused me numerous problems.  My roses seem to be just long tall stems with no leaves and little bebees on top for roses.  Some plants just did not grow at all.  They just sat there.  But I always take a positive approach to things.  At least they did not die. We can all look forward to a fresh start next spring.  The fall bloom has made up for everything.  What nice roses I have had.

It is time to put the garden to bed.  But I have taken steps to add some extra pots of English boxwood, and have placed them around the back porch so I can still have some greenery around when it is 30 degrees. The pansies are potted, along with some violas and mustard chard.

I have inspected all my houseplants before I brought them in, looking for those hiding wasps, and bugs. It would not be the first time that I brought in a plant from the outside and got a nasty surprise later with wasps flying all over the house.

You should take time to inspect some of the garden tools before putting them away.  I always make sure that my shovels, rakes, and other tools are nice and clean at the end of the season.  I use some steel wool and other scouring pads to remove any rust and dirt.  For the smaller tools I have big buckets of sand that I sink most of my hand tools into to really clean them well.  Take the time to sharpen that favorite pair of Felco snips.  I always clean the blades after every use.

Now to the garden, as it is the main event.  I take the time to walk through the garden at the end of each growing season, notebook and pen in hand.  Make notes on what plant grew well, and which ones just did not cut it.  Some plants will outperform your expectations, and then others will wilt and die.

As far as chores in the garden go, it is time to prune those tall rose canes down to a manageable length.  You don’t want tall canes whipping around in the winter wind.  After the first freeze you might want to trim down some perennials.  This is up to you and how you and your garden to look.  I usually leave my foliage on until early February when I go out side and clean up.  The reason is that I enjoy seeing dried seed heads in the winter, and dried flowers.  It adds winter interest.  All the leaves that fall off of the trees I like to blow into the beds because this is the true free compost of the garden.  I leave them there all winter.  They rot into the ground and further enrich my soil.  Then come springtime, I add my soil conditioner over the dried leaves, after I tidy up the flower beds.  This is a can’t loose deal.  Naturally I have great garden soil.  I build it every year.  It just does not happen.

My window boxes are stuffed with dwarf English boxwoods, pots of violas, and ivy trailing downward.  One of my window boxes has just blue creeping juniper with a boxwood in it.  I love the teal blue color of the conifers in the winter.  I have promised myself next spring to concentrate on planting more conifers.  I love them because of their original shapes.  The fact that they stay green all year does not matter to me.  It is the blue grey color or teal color that I value.  So I am going to read up on them this winter.

Spend the holidays resting and reading.  This is the time that I catch up on what is new in gardening and what plans I might have for next spring. It is a great time to plan a new flower bed on paper.  Order up all those seed and plant catalogs and dream away.

Feel free to email me.  And don’t forget that I have copies of my book, My Gardener’s Guide, available.  They make great Christmas gifts.

Posted by Linda on Oct 12, 2004

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