Saying good night to the garden

By Dorothy Dobbie

We always speak of “putting the garden to bed” as though we tucked things in and covered them up, and I suppose some do this, especially if the gardener is given to planting zone-stretching treasures. But for me, this time of the year is more like just saying “good night” as I water perennials one last time, put away those unplanted, last minute plants I couldn’t resist buying on sale and clean up the perpetually falling leaves from my cedars.

I did all that last weekend, moving garden ornaments to the garage and emptying hanging baskets. Then I sat in the warmth of an uncharacteristic November day, with the sun shedding optimism all around me. While doing some cleanup, I had noticed that my ornamental thistle (a plant I once coveted and am now beginning to resent because of its common name and spiny leaves) was sending up new shoots and new flowers – and it’s the beginning of November, for heaven’s sake! How can you not be optimistic?

I’ve taken in all the tropicals, pruned the hibiscus and the mandevilla to one-third their summer size, and slipped the tender gladiola bulbs in paper bags dusted with fungicide into their cool winter resting place.

I don’t dump absolutely every pot. The cursed little bunnies (cursed in the spring at any rate) love to nibble over-hanging parsley in mid-winter because it stays evergreen and must taste delicious after a months-long diet of the dead and nearly-dead plant life under the snow. I couldn’t toss the Nierembergia or the Osteospermum, both blooming happily, and I left a full pot of purple petunias – just because. But there is no disguising the fact that we have now said goodnight to the garden. And it’s a peaceful scene, waiting quietly for the first snowfall scheduled to occur in a day or two.

As for me, I don’t mind this winter rest. I’m already planning next year, scanning the growers’ catalogues for the hottest items coming our way. I’m thinking of some major rehabilitation of the back garden and considering a new approach in the rose garden.  This time it will be a lot more orderly…

So, good night garden of 2017. Sleep softly under the snow. And by the way, it was nice growing you.

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