October 22, 2018
Autumn is moving quickly this year, with our first frost occurring October 2. My family has been helping to clean up but there's more to do each day as perennials give out and leaves continue to fall. The photo above was taken a few weeks ago as the 'Shademaster' honey locusts trees turned yellow, then golden, then orange, and then the leaves fell.
A month ago the white garden was full of white flowers, green leaves and a few 'Karma Choc' dahlia blooms.
Now that area of the garden is going bare quickly. The 'Spring Snow' crabapple trees lost their leaves earlier than usual this year. Leaving their fallen leaves to rot in place last year led to a bad fungal scab problem this year. They were dropping spotted leaves throughout the season, though our dry summers meant they didn't completely defoliate in midsummer as can happen in rainy, humid climates. This year we're raking and removing all the SS leaves and I'll spray the ground and trunks with copper in the spring to reduce the scab problem. Live and learn. The honey locust and 'Royal Raindrops' crabapple leaves will be left, though.
Here is the Northwest corner a month ago, with the RR crabapples still sporting pretty maroon leaves.
Now the area features orange tones on the crabapple leaves and fewer flowers along the path. Last week I sprayed beneficial nematodes around the lilacs, peonies and roses in my backyard in hopes of controlling my root weevil problem. I thought the chewed-up leaves were from carpenter bees or grasshoppers, but a mention of root weevils by one of the employees at a nearby nursery led to the realization that I had a big problem throughout much of my garden. The adults don't hurt the plants too much by nibbling on leaves, but the larvae eating the roots can cause great harm. I think that's why one of my 'Blue Angel' hostas grew much smaller this year than last year.
The 'Caesar's Brother' Siberian iris leaves collapse in fall despite the help of wire supports. They'll turn completely yellow and then golden-orange if we don't drop too far below freezing in the next weeks.
Last month the west garden was still cheerful and full. Tiny starts of 'Dazzleberry' sedum were planted along the edges of the path and finally matured enough to make a nice show this season. You can only see a couple of them from this angle, but the blue-violet leaves, deep pink blooms, and rusty seedheads have added a lot of color and interest. I'm slowly joining the sedum fan club. In addition to 'Dazzleberry,' my collection now includes 'Angelina,' 'Matrona,' 'Lemonjade,' 'Cherry Tart,' 'Blue Spruce,' and 'Blue Pearl.'
Now the few remaining plants in the west garden are looking a little lonely and a trellis is begging to be straightened. I know some gardeners leave dead perennials clumps throughout the winter and enjoy the textures, but we usually get enough snow to smash them flat. And spring is always busy enough without adding fall chores to the list, so we're getting as much cleanup done as possible this month.
These cute autumn crocus flowers are reminders that spring will come eventually. I've started planting bulbs but still have more to finish after my last order arrives in the mail. This fall I'm adding 15 lilies, 30 alliums, 166 tulips, and about 50 other bulbs. I've also planted 3 'Chocolate Shogun' astilbes, 8 'Prairie Dusk' penstemons, 6 'Moody Blues' and 2 'Hocus Pocus' veronicas, 3 'Harlem' poppies, 2 'Berry Awesome' hardy hibiscuses, a 'Lemon Chiffon' herbaceous peony, 2 'Mini Mauvette' hydrangeas and a 'Little Quickfire' hydrangea. I thought my garden was mostly full but apparently there's still plenty of room!