Last year, our first frost was in the first couple of weeks of October. I remember this because my friend Kat was visiting from Florida and she helped us carry plants into the house in a hurry. I wasn't prepared for the frost for some reason and we were really scrambling to get everything in and it was windy and COLD.
We haven't had a frost yet, but it's just a matter of time, and from the weather reports, I'm betting by next week at this time any annuals still left in the garden will be mush. But I'm ready for it! Shocking, isn't it? The Queen of Procrastination has done a pretty darn good job of getting the gardens ready for winter. In the last week or two, I have:
- Pulled or cut dead foliage and tossed it on the compost pile
- Cut the hostas back to about six inches so insects can't set up housekeeping in them for the winter
- Watered plants that were new this year or that are small or weak with root stimulator in an attempt to get the roots healthier for winter
- Dug the tender bulbs (Callas, cannas, dahlias, oxalis, sprekelia, tigridia, tritonia, amaryllis, gladiolus, caladiums), bagged them in mesh bags or sawdust, and labeled them
- Dug tender plants and potted them up to bring inside for the winter (pelargoniums, rosemary, bougainvillea, 'Diamond Frost' euphorbia)
- Repotted houseplants that needed it and brought them into the house (jasmine, dracaena, aloe, orchids, kangaroo fern, heliotrope, passiflora, abutilons, schefflera, Norfolk Island pine, Boston fern, abutilons, tropical hibiscus, pilea, cacti and other succulents)
- Took the campanulas I had in containers and planted them in the ground
- Dug the brugmansias and potted them up. Cut them back and shared the cuttings and also am rooting some here
- Did some mulching, although I'll wait to do the roses and other things after we've had the first frost
- Brought in garden art and pottery; Romie drained the fountains
- Took the two plants out of the pond and planted them in the ground for winter
- Continued to gather seeds from plants still producing them (cosmos, morning glories, etc.)
- Pulled what few weeds were in the beds (thank you, mulch!)
I mentioned that I watered plants that were new this year or that are small or weak with a root stimulator. When I was in Cleveland shopping at Petitti's with Kim (blackswampgirl), I asked her and one of the employees there what their opinion was about the root stimulator. Would it do any good or would I just be wasting it?
My theory is that if it beefs up the root system, the plant will stand a better chance of surviving whatever kind of winter we have coming our way. Kim said it might be interesting to use it on one plant and not on another and compare them in the spring. The Petitti's employee said he hadn't heard of doing this, but it wouldn't hurt anything. We'll see!
Though I got all the brugs dug and potted up, most of them are still outside on our front porch. They are the ones that had blooms on them and I'm going to wait to cut them back until they're finished blooming. If frost happens before that, I guess I'll just cut them back anyway. So right now, it's a jungle on our front porch, but those blooms are just too pretty to cut and the fragrance is out of this world, especially at night.
I'm working on a couple of bulb orders, because I really want more crocus and daffodils next spring. There are some oriental lilies on the orders, too, because I had a miserable showing of those this year. I don't know what happened, but the majority of them disappeared. I was especially disappointed that 'Muscadet' didn't return, because that one was exceptionally pretty and highly fragrant.
So while I'm not yet "done done" with winter prepping, I'm about as done as I should be right now, with maybe the exception of the bulb planting. I feel that way only because I hate planting bulbs when I'm out there shivering and with my teeth chattering. But that's how it is every fall. Why should it be any different this year?