One of the best things about fall (autumn) is the glorious sunflowers that seem to sprout up so quickly this time of year. Fall is probably my least favourite season, with spring being favourite, but I do like the cheerful sunflowers. This past spring I planted a variety of sunflower seeds with my grandchildren. Some in pots on the back deck and a few in my front garden…
Wandering through my gardens this past weekend, I found these spring beauties…
magnolia blossoms and blue skies
golden elderberry shoots
white tulips (almost) in bloom
daffodils and tulips
white and purple tulips
white and purple tulips
plum tree blossoms
purple tulip ready to burst
yellow wood poppy
Spring is my favourite time of year. It has arrived a bit late here in Ottawa this year, but has finally arrived. You can see the exciting changes in the gardens daily as the bulbs burst into bloom and the perennials poke through the soil.
During the winter months we drive up to the cottage to check on it and the property at least once a month. The deep snow allows us to keep track (pun intended) of all visitors.
We have the two legged variety (us)
and the four legged visitors…
I wonder if the four legged variety are longing for spring as much as we two legged creatures are. Regardless, spring still looks like a long way off!
Please be sure to visit my other blogs:
Laugh out loud (LOL) with me at Your Daily Chuckle
Be inspired and motivated by famous words of wisdom at WoW
My gardening website can be viewed at gardens4u
Today, December 21st, is our winter solstice here in Canada and the rest of the northern hemisphere. That means it’s the shortest day of the year. It also means the days will now start to get longer. Yaaaaaay. Technically, winter solstice, also referred to as mid-winter, is an astronomical event that happens as the earth travels on its orbit around the sun.
This date reminds me of my father as he, like me, much preferred summer and spring. He always commented on the winter solstice, getting great satisfaction in the fact that the long winter was getting shorter. On the flip side, on June 21st, our summer solstice, he would grumble and complain that the days were getting shorter.
‘Tis the season, my freelance writing season, as Gardens4u is now officially closed for the winter…
Although this past spring and summer were wet and cool, our summer was extended recently with the most marvelous fall weather. Unfortunately, that has come to an end, and reality is settling in.
Now my other interests are able to take over, with a growing list (I am a list person for sure) of the things I hope to accomplish this winter…
reconnect with my freelance writing contacts.
finish the quilt I started for my grandson last winter.
start and finish a quilt for my granddaughter.
make nursery curtains for my new granddaughter due to arrive the end of February.
clean out the few remaining closets I did not get to the past few winters.
reorganize the walk-in closet in our master bedroom.
post more frequently on this and my other blogs: WOW and LOL
spend more time with my grandson and granddaughter (and their parents).
visit with friends I never seem to find the time to visit during the gardening season.
read more books. If anyone has suggestions for a good read, please let me know!
clean my house. Although most people do their spring cleaning in the spring, I do mine in the winter (silly me) so when spring arrives I can get out and enjoy my favourite season.
update my business website, adding pictures from this past season. Be sure to check them out and add your comments!
exercise. Planks are my favourite exercise for maintaining muscle tone. Without gardening to keep me in shape I have to work extra hard in the winter to keep pounds from creeping up on my bathroom scale.
Phew, with that list I should be busy until spring when I can start a new garden season!
For some reason, the fall season is when many gardeners get the itch to prune back plants in their gardens. The guidelines are as follows, at least for our zone 4 to 5 gardens here in Ottawa, Ontario:
if a shrub blooms early (before June) wait until after flowering to prune. Some examples of early bloomers that need that old wood to bloom on are lilacs, forsythia, bridal wreath spireas, sand cherries, weigela, ninebarks, rhododendrons, viburnum, cranberry bushes, flowering dogwoods and magnolias.
if the shrub blooms after June, it can be pruned back in the fall or in the early spring when new growth is visible. Examples include Snowball and PeeGee Hydrangeas, spireas (except for bridal wreath), Butterfly bush, smoke tree, hibiscus (rose of Sharon), and red stemmed dogwoods.
woody shrubs like boxwoods, junipers and cedars can be trimmed back in the fall too, but also throughout the growing season (spring and summer)
some shrubs are best pruned while dormant. (late fall to very early spring, late February to early March) These include barberries, smoke bush, crepe myrtles, spireas (except bridal wreath variety), dogwoods, and cotoneasters.
to rejuvenate shrubs that flower poorly, are overgrown or straggly, cut them back to just above the first bud above the soil while the plant is still dormant. Shrubs that do well with this drastic treatment include spireas, lilacs, ninebarks, forsythias, barberry, weigela, blue mist, forsythia, honeysuckle, and potentilla (cinquefoil). You may sacrifice the flowers the first season after this rejuvenation, but the plant will be healthier.
deciduous (non-evergreen) trees are best pruned when dormant (late winter) as well. It is much easier to see the structure of the tree before the leaves come out. Winter pruning also prevents the formation of bacteria and disease in the cuts. The wounds will heal quickly as new growth starts shortly after pruning.
dead branches can be cut off any time in the season.
after the first frost, remove any leaves from roses and apply mulch to the crowns. This prevents the plants from heaving from the ground during freeze/thaw cycles. You can cut the longs stems of the most tender floribundas, hyrdrid teas and grandifloras back to 20 inches before winter too to prevent them from breaking off under a heavy snowfall. Another tip for tender roses is to apply a collar around the bush and fill it (loosely) with leaves. Wait to prune others back until daffodils start to bloom in the spring to ensure the ground temperature is sufficiently warm. Dead or broken branches can be cut off in the fall or any other time of the season. Suckers can also be removed in the fall, cutting them out as close to the base of the plant as possible.
Perennials can be, but do not have to be, deadheaded (remove dead blossoms) and cut back in the fall. Remove sturdy flower stalks (coneflowers etc) right back to the foliage at the base of the plant. Some gardeners like to leave these stalks on the plants over the winter for birds and their snow-covered beauty. On softer plants simply remove the browned and dead looking, limp or soggy foliage (daylilies, peonies, bleeding hearts etc) and cut back their stems to six or eight inches from the ground. I like to do everything I can in the fall because spring seems to be so short lived these days and I run out of springtime hours in the gardens. Whenever you clean up your gardens, remember to harvest the seeds for future (freebie) plants as I did for my cottage garden.
Instead of “mirror, mirror on the wall”, I should say “gardens, gardens on my route, who’s the fairest of them all?” I know that “all” does not rhyme with “route”, but let me ensure you get the picture, literally…. Continue reading →
While my turkey was cooking this afternoon, I took the opportunity to get outside in the beautiful sunshine we are enjoying this weekend. Most of my yard is bare with just a few patches of snow left. I saw a few buds and stems of perennials basking in the sunshine too…
My pond is still frozen with the plants around it covered in snow…
A quick peek at my gardens turned into a chance to trim back some ornamental grasses that I left over the winter…
These ornamental grasses are best trimmed right now when they start to show some new growth. Another garden chore that can be done very early is the trimming of any dead, crossing or undesirable branches on your trees. It is much easier to do now than when the leaves emerge as you can see the shape of the tree better.
The rest of the plants are best left alone for a while yet…