Last Rites


Last_ritesIn my part of the world, Thanksgiving really does represent a drop-dead date.  Everything tends to seize up at that point, and it becomes too late to plant, too late to mulch, and too late to grill.  The arrival of our deep freeze was especially abrupt this year, since, as The Onion reported, fall was recently canceled after a 3-billion season run.

Given my Thanksgiving deadline, I work like crazy in the yard in November, and there are still always jobs I don’t manage to do. 

This year, I let a bunch of cacti I didn’t care about anyway freeze in slovenly fashion beside my walkway.  I also let the geraniums on my front stoop in the country–in expensive Italian pots–freeze and crack their containers.  And since my lawn guy Ernie couldn’t deliver truckloads of leaves until Thanksgiving weekend, my vegetable garden is only partway mulched.  I managed to cover everything with alpaca bedding from my neighbor, but if I don’t cover that with a layer of leaves, weeds will sprout out of the hay.  Now, the leaf-spreading is going to have to wait until spring, when I’ll really be feeling the pressure, since I also plan on nailing up another round of rabbit-inhibitory fencing before the parsnips go in.

Still, the whole fall rush went pretty well.  I managed to get at least 500 bulbs into the ground.  My husband got the goldfish in the house before they froze, into a fish tank in my younger daughter’s room decorated luridly with pink plastic plants.  I emptied my big cast iron urn and put it away.  I got the dahlias tucked into Rubbermaid tubs in the basement.  I got most of the houseplants inside, where they can limp along under my desultory non-concern until May.  I harvested a ton of vegetables, and managed to eat or freeze or store most of them, leaving only the onions too long in the garage, where they’ve turned into grey popsicles.

Now, I’m ready to settle into a long winter of catalog consideration and credit card abuse.


  1. I got the last of my bulbs in yesterday, too, only hours before the first snowstorm of the season. OF COURSE I was out planting in the rain. It wasn’t my fault, honest! My end-of-season-sale shipment from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs had arrived the day before (a day early at that) and I’d toiled until dark planting everything I could because I knew this storm was coming.

    While waiting for bulb shipments I’d managed to empty all the “summer” pots, and definitely got all of the plain clay/terracotta pots emptied and stacked in the shed. I also got the “summer” glazed clay and assorted plastic/styrofoam pots emptied. The “spring” pots are mostly faux whatever, and they are full of bulbs, shrubs and perennials. Yep–I have four sets of pots: one set for spring bulbs, pansies and primroses, one set for summer tender bulb and annual color, and one set for fall mums and more pansies. The fourth set is the containers too large to even consider moving: they are home to roses, Japanese Maples, shrubs, bulbs and assorted perennials.

    I’ve still got plenty of fall chores waiting for this storm to clear and the snow to melt: compost-sieving and strewing, fertilizing (with organic and/or slow-release), going through my seedling pots.

    Ordinarily I’d be starting winter-sown seeds beginning this week, but I’m taking a hiatus from that for a couple of years.

    And yes, I’ll be hitting the catalogs as they arrive…

  2. I still have bulbs to put in pots and then in the garage. Otherwise, I’m done and I am so looking forward to a catalog buying frenzy this winer! The roofers did really the perfect amount of damage

    Not horribly devastating, just enough to make a minor orgy of plant buying necessary.

    Is there such a thing as a minor orgy?

  3. Hey Amy,
    Up here beyond the border, I can’t even find any pots. We got a 48 hour heavy snow warning last weekend and yes it did dump about 3ft of snow, followed by a heavy rain warning. I blanked out on how much rain fell during the two days it rained. And now the temperatures are well below freezing, everywhere is like a skating rink, and the snow is rock hard. I don’t want to think about my poor shrubs under the compacting snow, even tied with string and wrapt in sacking. I look out every day for catalogues in my mail box, and can hardly wait for those luscious pictures.

  4. yeah…I left a few tenders outside to suffer and freeze to death this year. I thought it would be a kinder way to go rather then at the claws of my cat over the winter long….

    The first hard freeze and I had to wear ear plugs they were screaming so loud for help. Eventually the screaming has quieted and gone away.

  5. Wow! Thanks for reminding me why I’m glad I live in the South. Most years I don’t have to wind things down until mid January, and then by early March it’s time to get back out in the garden. Even your photo makes me shiver!

  6. Frozen pots, check. And after I finish my lunch, I’m heading out to finish winter arrangements for 2 customers — the greens & winterberries have been languishing in the garage since I optimistically bought them last Thurs. My spouse (ever-supportive & creative) suggested that I head out there with a cordless drill to get the twigs into pots if the soil didn’t thaw soon. 🙂

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