Monday, November 6, 2017

Harvesting Corn and Cutting Down Perennials

With a clematis still in glorious bloom by the kitchen garden gate and with trees holding on to their leaves, it doesn't seem like November. But when our farmer harvested the corn, I realized that the growing season should be over.  I love the cornfields around my garden; the tall plants give a sense of enclosure, of protection. I'm sad when the fields are bare again. Look through the arbor (above), dear gardening friends, and at the following pictures to see the fields before and after the harvester did its work.

The Harvester Arrives
The corn is gone  marking the end of the growing season.

Looking at blog postings from previous years, I see how unusual this fall continues to be. Often, here in the mountains by early November we have experienced a snowfall, the trees have shed their leaves, and I have completed most of the tasks toward putting the garden to bed. This year: no snow, fewer falling leaves, loads of tasks for this gardener to finish.

The walnut trees are bare, however, except for an abundance of walnuts. On the other hand, we have maple trees in full leaf even now.

Lots of walnuts on the trees this year.
Maple tree with golden foliage today.

The miniature weeping redbud is beginning to drop its leaves, lower ones first.

Dwarf weeping redbud 'Lavender Twist'

The foliage on the viburnum is a lovely deep red.

Interesting happenings (for this time of year) in the cottage garden include blooming 'Knockout' roses and healthy, green water plants. Frost has not touched the water hyacinths so I am loath to remove them and close the pond. The fish are still active -- usually before November they disappear to the bottom where they hide under rocks.

The pond and cottage garden

Perennial geranium 'Roxanne' with its pretty purple/blue flowers - not giving up.

I have cut down those perennials that have finished blooming, especially the ones that are prone to powdery mildew, such as beebalm and phlox. I usually leave purple cone flowers standing for the goldfinches to enjoy the seeds, but this year some of them were infected with aster yellows, so I removed most, being heedful not to compost any diseased plants. I cut down the shasta daisies, obedience plants, yarrow, and gooseneck loosestrife when they began to look ugly. I love how the shasta daisies and yarrow grow basal foliage after they are cut back, and I'm careful to cut off the stalks and dead plant material without disturbing this new growth. The peonies and daylilies are gone, as they don't add anything to the winter garden. I need to cut back all my hostas and remove their leaves as soon as I can, because they harbor slug eggs that will hatch out and ruin next year's growth.

I must clean up the hostas in the Serenity Garden.

I've emptied less than half of the containers of annuals and still have many to tip out. The Boston ferns, however, are surprisingly beautiful even now.

The Boston ferns under the pergola are far from over.

I feel the need to restore order and tidiness to my kitchen garden. I will remove the remaining Swiss chard which is past its prime, weed beds, rake, and add compost. I must clean out the coldframe and prepare it for the early spring planting. So much to do this late in the year ...

Fortunately, there are numerous plants I can leave until spring to add winter interest, such as the seeds of sedum 'Autumn Joy' and all my grasses. My friend Katharine suggests I allow my new Joe Pye Weed to display its large, round, lacy globes all winter long. She told me how beautiful it will look with snow on it. I don't cut back my anise hyssop because it is more likely to survive the cold temperatures if you leave the tops to collect leaves and snow for insulation.

I try not to be in a hurry to rush out and cut plants back, as it's better to wait until after a few harsh frosts have killed back the tops. This year, it's a long wait.

Whatever the weather where you live, enjoy the rest of this season, dear fellow gardeners.


Pamela x

 Mums on the front porch
H.H. found these mushrooms

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  1. It is a lovely sight to see the corn in the fields, takes me right back to my childhood as the back of our garden looked out on to cornfields. I used to love to sit and watch the combine harvester at work. Sadly, those fields are now home to office blocks and a new link road has been built right through them, it's so sad to see how built up it all is now. The trees here seem to be holding on to their leaves at present, though we've had our first frost this past week and the weather is much cooler now so perhaps they'll be dropping them pretty quickly now.

    1. My husband has lived in this house all his life and he gets very upset at how built-up this area has become. He vows never to allow building on our small piece of land as long as he lives. This morning it's very cold as an arctic front moves in -- what a change!

  2. We still have temperatures in the mid-80s every day here so it hardly seems like November, at least what we traditionally imagine as November, but this is becoming more and more common. I loved the pictures of your garden and the corn fields. Fall cleanup continues (very slowly) in my own garden.

    1. We have more seasonal weather now, Dorothy, but I still haven't finished the fall cleanup.

  3. I can't believe that clematis! Beautiful.
    You're right, it does look remarkably green considering the time of year, but I'm wondering if you finally got your snow this morning. Here the drive to work involved about an inch... although fortunately nothing lasted on the roads.

    1. We had snow that morning, Frank, but none stuck. We haven't had a major storm yet.

  4. Your clematis is still so beautiful! We've had hard frost most nights for two weeks now, so flowers are pretty much done here. Good luck in getting your autumn garden work done -- I'm with you in putting as much as possible off to spring, when I'm longing to work outside. Best, -Beth

    1. I'm leaving more tasks for the spring than usual, I think. Hope I don't regret it.

  5. Like you, I find it to be a strange November. We’ve had hard frosts, yet some flowers continue to hang on. But it’s getting colder, and they can’t last much longer.

  6. How I miss the cornfield along my east lane bed, too! When I saw my renter coming to harvest the corn, I was sad, and it always tempts me to plant another row of cedar or something to maintain the enclosed feeling. I was also glad he was able to get the crop in before heavy rain and snow. We're having much the same weather here, too; some trees have yet to lose their leaves and the work here has also not been done due to the family emergencies lately. I know much of the cleanup can wait until spring, but I really do hate to put it all off as spring comes with its own relentless agenda. The warmer weather lulls me into thinking I have time, silly me!