Jack’s back

Mother Nature must have kicked Jack Frost out of bed this morning because he came by bright and early to nip our roses (and a few noses and other posies).  Gail and I tried to remember when frost first hit here last year and although she had a frost at her house right before Halloween, we weren’t truly hit here (at least according to my shoddy record keeping) until snow fell on December 2nd.

Regardless of our actual frost date though we stick to the same schedule every year for putting the gardens to bed.   We always worry that our volunteer work force might revolt and desert when the weather gets too bitter – our tea break just isn’t long enough to give everyone’s chilly fingers a chance to thaw.  I have to say though that if I had a choice, I’d prefer having the catharsis of a timely frost to taking the beds apart long before Jack’s had a chance to nip them.  So I gave a little internal cheer when I saw the frost warning in the forecast yesterday.  This frost was a fairly light and patchy one as they go but it makes me feel a bit less heartbroken about sticking to our schedule.  The Florabundas took annuals and dahlias out of the North Garden yesterday (we left the foliage on the dahlias and kept them outside overnight in hopes that they’d get “hit” before storage), and today Cathy, Gail and I finished taking annuals out of the Rose Garden (we cut them off at the ground to allow their roots to decompose a little in the soil over the winter) and moved the last of the container plants into the greenhouse.  We had saved things like the New Zealand Flax (Phormium) and Camellias for last because they can take the cold.  A few annuals melted in the Display Garden beds that we’ve been saving for last but I think we can eke out one final weekend of technicolor.

Have you had a frost yet?  Informal poll:  When do you do your end of season garden chores?  Do you wait for a frost to hit and bundle up to work outside?  Do you wait until spring to do the major cleanup of melted annuals?  Or do you put the garden to bed when the sun is out and the time is right for you?

5 thoughts on “Jack’s back

  1. The great thing about blogging is getting an insight into gardening in different parts of the world. Here in Southern California we don’t get frost so we never put our gardens to bed. It’s work, work, work all year round!

    Sheila, I don’t know what I’d do in a year-round garden. When do you get to take a break and hibernate? -kris

  2. Your pictures made me shiver a little.

    Deb, I think I was shivering a lot when I took them! But it’s warm here again today – it’s no wonder I haven’t gotten used to the cold. -kris

  3. Wow, you do get frost late at Blithewold! We usually have a good frost in late September but this year the frost was a hard freeze with temps around 25F. That last picture of the frosty garden deserves a place on the mantel. Great photo!

    Layanee, it’s like a whole other world up in your neck of the woods! It’s hard to believe we’re in the same teensie weensie state. -kris

  4. Here in Austin we expect our first frost around Thanksgiving, but in town we may only see 3 to 5 light freezes a winter (more outside of town). So the gardening goes on year round. In fact, for me, fall through spring is prime planting time. Cleanup of browned perennials occurs in mid-February, right before last frost. Winter is mighty short here, and the gardener’s goal is to get the garden ready to survive summer.

    Pam, I think I remember you saying once that you take your break from the garden during the high heat of summer – I can’t imagine working out in the kind of temperatures you get then either! -kris

  5. Wow–that last picture of the blue/purple bed in frost is stunning. In the NY Finger Lakes, it frosted in mid-October, down into the mid-20s all last week, and it’s snowing and blowing today! This is my first full winter here, so I’m sticking to the local admonitions to cut back most perennials, but I’ve left a lot with seedheads out for the birds and so that everything doesn’t look so…gone! Thanks for the great photos! What is your player that pops up when you click them? Flash?

    Lynn, brrrrrr!! I’m not ready for the cold and it’s not nearly so chilly here yet. (I’m a wimp.) I’m glad you liked my pics – the cool picture overlay is a plug-in called lightbox. -kris

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