Fall Gardening…NOT for the Faint of Heart

As previously mentioned in this prior post, I love, love, LOVE to garden! But not all seasons are appreciated equally. You see, I have a problem with fall gardening.

fall gardening

I have a very large perennial garden and after all the thought and work I’ve put into it, the end is so sad. In Wisconsin, we call it “fall”. 

So many people love the changing colors of the trees and bushes. But why does no one but me notice our dying gardens? Arghhhh. I look out at my backyard and see brown ferns, the leftover stems from phlox, and  weeds that were previously hidden. Don’t even get me going on the  holes from when my grand dogs visited.

Here are some sanity strategies that I’ve come up with (instead of just mowing everything down and planting grass seed). 

Hint #1:  Cut the dead, overgrown plants back in the fall.  

fall gardening

On a positive note, fall does give us a chance to cut it all back and make plans for fixing the problems that keep coming up in the spring. 

For example, I happen to have an abundance of ferns.  In the spring they wave in the breeze, are a wonderful shade of green, and are beautiful.  I might say that I have lots, did I say “lots” of them and more of them keep coming up in the spring even after digging out hundreds of them in the fall.  Well, in the fall guess what, they turn a really ugly shade of brown, shrivel up, and fall over. 

Then, there are the phlox that also overpower my much loved perennial garden.  They too are multiplying and are everywhere.  Again, in the spring they are perky, green, with luscious buds just waiting to pop.  Now it’s fall and they are high, drooping, brown sticks.  

Jumping back to the positive, I do enjoy all the mum plants, and fall flowering asters, even though in my garden they seem to be at a minimum.  But it also gives me a reason to get out in the garden and work on putting the yard to bed.

Hint #2:  A garden is more than flowers.

 fall gardeningI like to have some flowering bushes mixed in my perennial gardens.  By cutting back the overgrown, dead, plants, there is a clean area around the bushes and sets them apart so that by next spring they can be planted around instead of on top of.

Hint #3:  Tuck your babies under some covers.

This is a good time to put any extra cover, mulch, or whatever can be used as a wind barrier for some plantings that need extra weather protection. Blow those leaves into the garden bed to help keep the roots of your favorite perennials snug and warm.

Hint #4:  Plan for what look you want for the next growing season.

This is a good time to go through garden magazines and make a plan for what would be a good planting for the next spring. Or maybe you just want to take a little break and begin gathering pictures, collecting new websites, or listening to podcasts for inspiration.

Hint #5:  Pray for a short winter

fall gardeningMy least favorite time of the year seems to be January through March. When I think of this time period I can say that it is an effort to keep motivated, not giving into the darkness and cold. Winter is beautiful when it is snowing, but it is too damn long.  The fresh snow is gorgeous, especially during the holidays, then it can come to an end.  

With all this being said,I guess that I really love summer…just not when the humidity is unbearable, I love to get out of bed, put on a pair of shorts,  a t-shirt, and call it a day.  By then hopefully, my perennial garden is in full swing, mulch has been laid, and I can sit back and enjoy the fruits of my labor.  I have a screened-in porch that offers me lots of opportunities to sit back, enjoy the view and read or entertain friends who love the outdoors bug-free. 

So I guess I’ll skip counting down ‘til Christmas and begin my “days until summer” countdown instead.

Are you with me?

Or maybe you ARE a successful multi-season gardener. If so, what other tips for growing a great perennial garden do you have? Perhaps you can persuade me to return this economy-size bag of grass seed…

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1 thought on “Fall Gardening…NOT for the Faint of Heart

  1. Sandy, I hate winter also as it is too long. Spring should start March 1st, or sooner. But, without winter, we may not appreciate the spring and summer as much. There is nothing as rewarding as getting outside in the spring to dig in the dirt and watching the rebirth of plants. We accent our perennial gardens with lots of annuals. They provide a riot of color all season long. But, when fall arrives, which is my favorite time of year, I also take great pleasure in cutting the gardens down, neatening them up and making plans all winter on how I may make changes. Some gardeners like to leave all the dead plants up for the winter for the birds but I hate the mess. It’s too depressing. I do leave up the Sedum. So, I suggest you cut all those brown ferns down, enjoy fresh snowfall and enjoy your indoor plants for awhile.

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