When the mums and montauk daisies have bloomed it’s a sure sign that gardening days will soon be over for the year. And, in case I needed a reason, there’s nothing like an impending event or deadline that screams ToDo list.
How a day, any day, begins without a list is beyond my comprehension, but even my list takes on a new sense of urgency when it becomes a document. This fall’s list of projects is a seventeen item document (and growing).
There’s lots of “divide, move & root (?)” items on my list, which is our first indication that instead of the classic mounding perennial I may have over-used plants that spread, multiply, or easily propagate. I can’t possibly throw out a perfectly good cutting that might take root, or discard half a plant that’s been divided, so fall clean-up is never just a clean-up.
Two years ago I was so proud of the Montauk Daisy in the front that I had started from a cutting the year before. And last fall I thought I had finally aced the job of pruning since it was strong and tall this spring. By August it was talking the same old story again – naked in the center, and not in a good way. Now I’ve learned it needs a haircut in June to keep it upright. Hoping I’ll figure this out eventually.
Last September I took a picture of the new dusty heather plants by the swan. They landed there as a temporary home since I couldn’t decide where to put them, or if they’d survive the winter anyway. Most gardeners treat them as annuals, but they do indeed survive the winter, they produce a small yellow flower all summer that’s somewhat unremarkable, and they can become a small shrub in a wink.
I’ve cut all three plants nearly to the ground and planted the cuttings in the back garden to root. Two cuttings from earlier this summer have already taken root in the front, and if all the new cuttings survive, I’ll have 20 new dusty heather plants from these original three. That’s a hard-working plant.
The side garden has been a perpetual work in progress since we bought the cottage three years ago. We added a gated arbor earlier this summer, which also necessitated finding matching stones so we could widen the walkway to the width of the arbor. And I’ve recently cleared everything out from under the dogwood except the ajuga, which gives it a much cleaner look. Since most of the plants in this area are now three years old, there’s lots of dividing and moving projects in this area.
There’s two areas that scare me more than anywhere else in the garden: the section of upper left field we deemed the ‘wildflower garden’ last year and the rain garden just below. Both have become overwhelmed with wildflowers and ornamental grass.
The pebbles in the berm lead to the rain garden, which actually has a nice variety of plants that you can’t see by mid summer for all the grass. A blackberry bush is growing by the fence, a small fig tree is doing really well between the grass and even the bare root dogwood is thriving. Lilies, wildflowers and a few native flowers are planted right into the berm, but who would know. There’s a design opportunity hidden somewhere in this mess I’ve made.
The cosmos are not quite as dense as the first year we planted the wildflowers, but their seeds have blown all over the garden and now there’s a cosmos here and a cosmos there everywhere. And there’s other wildflowers, shorter wildflowers in the far back that I want to move out of left field entirely so we can see them. It is not the kind of last hooray I had in mind.
I don’t remember buying the Musa Basjoo (Hardy Banana) last year, and I’m positively certain I had no idea what it was or would become (this was before I researched the bejesus out of every plant in the garden). It was so small last fall, and I was thinking it should have flowered, so I moved it to a sunnier spot. It has flourished in its new home and is still forming these massive leaves even now. Maybe it has finally found its favorite home. Come to think of it, so have I.