Thursday, November 19, 2009

Putting the Garden to Bed for the Winter

In a peculiar way, this is one of my favorite seasons in the garden, because things slow down and stop growing for a few weeks (or at least it seems so). Every year I feel a little guilty about liking this season of cleaning, but then I realize it's all just part of the cycle.

The top photo is one section of the perennial bed in early October, at is overwhelming autumn peak. The Helianthus angustifolia is tied to the wall, threatening to crush anyone who happens to walk by when it starts to topple. The asters, phlox, and zinnias are all crying out, "I'm not done blooming yet! Don't cut me back!"

The second photo is virtually the same spot five weeks later. We've reached a point of imminent (temporary) death for the blooms, and they've gone to bed for the winter. This is when I find I'm able to enjoy just how beautiful the garden at the Big House is. I suddenly develop a new appreciation for the beautiful hardscaping, which is just starting to develop some of that "softness" that comes as a garden ages. It seems that our days are filled with removal of spent blooms and foliage, hauling it off to the green waste site for composting. We are finally getting rid of the packaging involved with the winter annuals, and getting the opportunity to take brushes and hoses to things.

On one hand it's a little sad, but on the other, very refreshing! Go outside today and enjoy what's left of autumn!


  1. Every Fall, I think I just can not do it again the following Spring. But, I'm busting out of my seams to get out there and weed come March.
    I love a mature garden.

  2. But, Jim, you're barely out of your youth! The garden at the Big House is just reaching that point of being "mature," and I'm loving it! I don't think there is really any easy way to hurry the softness that a garden develops over time.

  3. Hi Tim;

    No matter when we start to put things to bed here in Vermont,there are weather related interferences. Some years the snow is only inches deep when December arrives but some years it's deeper and the snow plow gets put into service early. I cannot relate to the envious opportunity to be able to finish fall cleanup.

    George Africa
    The Vermont Gardener
    Vermont Flower Farm