Thursday, December 15, 2011

GBBD and Lessons Learned II

I don't know about you, but it seems that everything I do takes longer to accomplish these days. I've taken a mini-blogging break lately so that I could focus on getting some Christmas projects and the shopping done.  But it's time for another Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, and I didn't want to miss out, even though there's not much to show.

There are a few spots of green out in the garden from the lamium, heucheras, and hellebores, but otherwise the garden is a soggy mess of brown.  Besides, it's rainy and windy outside today, so we will have to stay indoors. I had hoped I could share some blooms on the small Christmas cactus for Bloom Day, but it turns out it is more of a Thanksgiving cactus instead.  After a nice little showing for Thanksgiving, its blooms have withered, and it's time to move it and make room for more Christmas decorations.

A pot of pansies and ruffled kale are still blooming outside my patio door, but I showed them last month.  Other than that, the only real bloom I have today is a geranium resting in the garage.  Considering my shameful neglect of all the plants I brought inside last month, I'm surprised it's even still alive.  And that's it, fellow garden bloggers.  Not even a festive Christmas poinsettia to share with you . . . I really need to get that shopping done!


Speaking of geraniums,  I also wanted to participate in a meme hosted by Beth at Plant Postings about lessons learned in the garden this autumn.  In September I wrote about what I had learned this summer, but there is always something new to learn in the garden--or maybe it's just that I need to have the lessons presented several times before I actually learn them:)  If you will indulge me, here are a few things I learned (or re-learned) this fall:

1.  Don't bother bringing in annuals or tender perennials to over-winter inside unless you're actually going to take care of them.  Determined to be a little thriftier next season, I potted several cuttings of coleus and dug up some of the geraniums, begonias, and hibiscus that were still looking good in early November. I  brought numerous pots into the garage while I tried to decide where there might be room in the house for them to spend the winter.  A month later, they're still in the garage.  The garage is semi-heated, so that shouldn't be a problem, but opening the back door repeatedly to let the dogs out and leaving it wide open on a very cold day for the furnace repairman meant some arctic blasts hit some of the tender plants. Instead of saving them for next spring, I may have merely consigned them to a slow death.

Kale and marigolds in mid-October

2. If someone else is doing the mowing and trimming, make sure you give clear directions as to what should not be mowed down. Mr. P and I have had repeated discussions on this subject, and for the most part, he tries his best to follow my wishes.  But I was surprised upon returning from some errands in early December to see him mowing the lawn.  Now that was fine because the lawn needed a last trim before winter, and the remaining leaves were shredded instead of matting the grass all winter.  It was also fine that he mowed over the vegetable garden, except that I had wanted to leave the kale standing.  It wouldn't have lasted all winter, but it would have lasted awhile longer and would have looked so pretty with the first dusting of snow.

Snow-covered fennel in January

I also like to leave the fennel standing, but it, too, was leveled.  No frozen fennel to photograph this winter!

3.  Planting spring bulbs isn't always as easy as it sounds.  I love, love tulips, and the time spent planting them in the fall is well worth it.  But I discovered this year that the amount of work it takes to have this beautiful show in the spring depends on where you plant them.   Planting them in the compost-rich soil of the new arbor bed was a breeze and actually enjoyable, especially since I didn't have to worry about disturbing other bulbs. But I decided this year that a mass of tulips and daffodils in front of the large fir tree next to the shade garden would really provide some impact next spring.  What I didn't realize is that the soil in front of the tree was rock-hard and mostly clay.  Add gnarled tree roots every few inches, and you have the makings of a very difficult job.  Several hours of pounding a shovel and then a trowel into this stubborn soil gave me quite a workout.

4. Take time to enjoy the season.  We really had a lovely fall, and although I did enjoy the fall color around me as I was working or while I was driving here and there, I wish I had stopped more often to really enjoy it.  For a month, I had promised Sophie we would go for a walk at our local forest preserve, but I kept putting it off until it was too late.  Sometimes, you just have to put down the trowel and make time for simply taking in all the beauty that is around you.

If you would like to share some lessons you've learned in the garden this past season, there's still time to join in at Plant Postings.  And don't forget to check out what's blooming all across the world at Carol's at May Dreams Gardens.


  1. Good to see you Rose. Bundle up and take Sophie for a walk anyway. It isn't too late. As for those intrepid mower men...good luck.

  2. That is a gorgeous picture of the fennel and snow. That reminds me why I like to live in a place with snowy winters :-)

  3. very true...all of them! I always forget how hard it is to plant bulbs among perennials in fall...lots o scratched arms and bruised fingers always follow.

  4. Lessons we can all learn from! Your difficult job planting the tulips will pay off tenfold if they come up looking like that beautiful photo of shell pink ones! So worth it.

  5. Outdoor blooms can be pretty hard to find in these parts in December Rose!

    All excellent lessons for us all. Your photos are all beautiful!

  6. Fantastic lessons learned - particularly since I seem to need to learn a few of those myself! I brought some rosemary into the house just a mere month or so ago to overwinter and it seems I've just about killed it already. Boy that didn't take long.

  7. Ha! You had me chuckling with your lessons learned. Thanks for joining in the meme! I, too, particularly enjoyed your photo of the fennel in the snow. Will we have a white Christmas? It's looking iffy...

  8. Fantastic photo of the fennel in the snow. I have the giant bronze one. I always cut it down because the seeds are coming up everywere in the garden.
    Have a lovely weekend

  9. Dear Rose, What a nice read! I do love your lessons~Applicable to us all.Especially, the final one! We all need to take time to enjoy the season. xogail

  10. Yay for geraniums, they are so hardy and difficult to kill! I also like to grow cyclamen indoors in winter - they really brighten dull days.

  11. Very good lessons here. Bulbs are hard to plant and tender perennials do need attention. Mine tend to fail in February as the growth extends and beckons to the bugs which have been in hiding up to this point. Your blooms are beautiful. I love the fennel with the snow.

  12. Hey Rose,
    Nice way to end your year. I just love the kale image.

    All your learned lessons are accurate so very relevant to all of us.

    Here's hoping your heavy work pays off for you next spring.

  13. Dear Rose,
    Garden lessons are easily forgotten when the blush of April sends us digging in the dirt again. I am forcing white tulips inside this year. I will plant them in the gardens in the your tulip photograph.
    Happy Winter Solstice....I am looking forward to snow and the return of light!

  14. I'm really impressed by the colour of that kale next to the marigolds.

    There isn't anything worth snapping in my garden at the moment, though we do have some summer flowers (in a dilapidated state) flowering bravely on. This is very strange!
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  15. I would feel bad too if the fennel was mowed. It is such a pretty plant to be dressed in snow or ice. You image is stunning.I agree on #4, too many do not take the time to enjoy and find beauty in a late fall and winter garden. There is a lot to see if you just take a stroll. A forest preserve is a great place to chill on a park bench and just enjoy the scenery.

  16. Those fabulous tulips will make up for the work it took to put them in!

    It's a shame about the kale and fennel. I know what you mean ~ I have to watch DH like a hawk or he gets into a mode where he mows everything. lol But I've mowed down a few things myself, luckily without lasting consequences.

    It'd be nice if we could extend those beautiful days wouldn't it? I often wish that the time between 3 and 4pm during fall and winter could go on until 9 ~ it's such a beautiful time on a fine day.

  17. Hi Rose, There is a lot of wisdom to be gained from your lessons learned. Taking time to enjoy the passing seasons seems very timely. Christmas is a week away and it is so easy to get so swept up in the preparations and forget to enjoy the holiday. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas and best wishes for the New Year.
    P.S. Got an audio copy of Started Early, Took My Dog and I am enjoying listening to it during my morning commute. Kate Atkinson writes with great wit and really brings the characters alive in her writing. Thanks for the recommendation!

  18. Love your lessons learned! I should probably list some of mine instead of keeping them secret. They're too easily forgotten that way. Merry Christmas, Rose!

  19. I wished I would've known about the Lessons Learned meme, earlier! I went over there and love her blog!! Truly, my list of lessons learned would take up an entire page, (you think I would run out to the garage and move my mandevilla right now, wouldn't you!?)


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