I can see snow falling through the window as I am writing. This does not make me very happy, as I feel that this summer was not nearly long enough, warm enough, or sunny enough. But this happens every year. As I look around the gardens, there are no more bright, colourful and flowery distractions left. The underlying design and structure of the garden is very obvious. Construction details become very obvious; either in a good or bad way. The importance of great design becomes easy to see.
Evergreens are also starting to become noticeable once more. From stately coniferous trees, to deep green shrubs, to shiny leaved perennial groundcovers, they add complexity and depth to the garden from now until spring. Plant material that holds it shape and looks good at this time of year is very important. Hydrangeas are a perfect example of this. Although the flowers have turned brown with the frost, they are still nodding along with the breeze/gale force winds, adding interest to the late fall garden. The trees still hanging on to their leaves also get noted for the last bit of colour they offer. Japanese Maples are still a vibrant red, and the gold of the larches are a welcome touch of colour before they lose their needles.
Any kind of garden art or statuary becomes more obvious as well and becomes much more of a focal point through these months of late fall, winter and spring. Although garden art can be anything from architectural salvage to gnomes with hats, ensure that the size and scale is appropriate for the location. Also ensure that it will stand up to the harshness of our Canadian winter.
All this being said, there are still jobs to be done outside. Mulching, and raking leaves onto the garden beds to provide cover and protection for the plants for the winter are both important projects. Plant bulbs for a shot of colour in the early spring. Dispose of leftover pumpkins before they turn into mush. Remove greenery from urns, in preparation for a winter display. Ensure any new plantings have a good watering before the ground freezes. This will help them survive their first winter in the ground. Clean out the vegetable garden, and add a layer of compost that will soak nutrients into the soil and make your vegetables grow well next year. Cover or store lawn furniture, and bring cushions inside. Winterize the pool…. Oh, the list is long. Let’s hope for a bit more sunshine and warm temperatures in order to get everything accomplished, before we go into hibernation for the winter!