This piece was originally published in my column, The magical Gardener, in today's edition of the Sunday Stew. Please be sure to head on over and read the entire edition, a delicious blend of spiritual flavors and nourishment for the soul.
Autumn is settling in now. There may still yet be a few warm days on the horizon but, as each day of October passes, the chances are slimmer. It is all about clean-up now in the magical garden and time is running out. Very soon, the first frosty tendrils of winter will begin to creep through the the last of the green leaves and final flowers, the trees will be bare, and we will turn our attention inwards, take ourselves and a few plants indoors, away from the cold to dream up and plan next year’s garden. Here in my magical garden, it is time to make the final preparations for the coming winter before that frost or freeze comes knocking.
First frost should arrive almost certainly by November 1st but has been known to suddenly make an appearance here in southeastern Pennsylvania in mid-October. The next week or so will find me and the magical gardening hubby feverishly working in the yard. I will put him in charge of building up the compost pile with the spent perennials and annuals and the growing piles of fallen autumn leaves while I harvest the last of the herbs and flowers to be put up for drying. He will also be the master hole-digger so that I can sink a few container plants, small shrubs and tiny trees, pots and all, into the soil to keep them warm and protected through the winter. The goal is to keep them out of the line of biting and damaging northern winter winds. We will both tackle the job of cleaning up the patio, putting away or securing chairs, grilling paraphernalia, and assorted empty unused pots and containers. As I work on trimming back the honeysuckle, I will praise his skill with the hedge-trimmer. We will both tackle the monster that is the wisteria and hope that it is the last time until April or May.
There are the garden inhabitants to worry about too. Every bird feeder and bath needs to be scrubbed clean before it gets too cold. New suet feeders will be hung here and there around the yard for easy winter feeding for all of our feathered friends. There is a bit of bird house cleaning to do, removing old nesting materials and securing them for new winter residents. A pile or two of old branches and small wood logs will be built up at the back of our property so that small critters, low-dwelling birds, or some over-wintering pollinators will have shelter. Even the garden fairy house will be spruced up for the winter.
I will also drag the hubby to the nursery or garden center for one more shopping spree before the cold sets in. There are last-minute deals on bulbs, perennials, and garden décor to be found out there! He will follow me through the aisles, arms laden with items that I place there as I reassure him. “Don’t worry, honey. It’s all on sale. Plus, you can consider this all part of my birthday present.” (My birthday is in mid-October and I tend to celebrate it all month long!) I will pat his arm lovingly and continue to the next garden find.