Friday, October 18, 2013

Notes on Preparing the Garden for Winter




It poured all night, but though the grey clouds still seem reluctant to move on, the rain has thankfully abated in time for Marion Jarvie's morning lecture on Preparing the Garden for Winter. 

The gardeners who have gathered together in Marion's Thornhill, Ontario garden on this damp October morning are not novices looking to learn garden basics like how to divide a perennial. No, these are hard core plant enthusiasts who have come to learn from the renowned designer and plantswoman who has been gardening for over 30 years.


The topic for this particular morning is getting the garden ready for winter, but it is hard for everyone assembled not to get distracted by the plants in the garden all around them. 

What's this plant? What's that plant, we all want to know? Everything is so interesting and unusual. 

Marion's greatest challenge turns out to be keeping her talk on track! Lucky for the curious among us however, she is just as passionate about talking about plants as we are.

It is late fall and Marion's garden is looking amazingly colorful. 


 

Japanese Anemone, Anemone x hybrid 'Party Dress' 

There are flowers to be sure, but the color has a lot more to do with foliage.




But I digress...I want to share with you some of the things I learned about getting the garden ready to put to bed for winter.

One of the first things Marion suggested was to weed your garden and then apply a layer of mulch. To mulch your flowerbeds, she recommends you add a top dressing Gro-Max Premium Garden Soil which is a blend of compost, aged bark, peat, sand and topsoil.

This was a new idea for me. Usually my garden has to wait for me to get around to adding soil amendments and a bark mulch sometime in early spring. It makes sense to put everything in place in late fall so the garden can get off to a good start the moment the weather warms up. 

As an additional bonus of Marion's method of mulching in fall is that it can actually help to suppress the seeds of annual weeds. Hey, who doesn't want to weed less?


Did you give in to your desire for to keep the flowers going and buy some garden Mums this fall? I did. Mums may be a bit of a fall cliche, but its are hard to resist that injection of late fall color. 

Usually I rip these marginally hardy plants out in late fall and compost them. After hearing Marion's talk, I think I may have been too hasty in scrapping them. God knows, it is a waste of money to buy new ones each year! 

Marion manages to keep her Mums going by providing with them dry, sheltered conditions against the walls of her house. The key to keeping them going through the winter is making sure whatever location you place them in is dry. Mums hate getting soggy.

As Marion asked the gardeners assembled, what have you got to lose in trying? 

Generic Hellebore picture used here and not one from Marion's garden

Hellebores form flower buds in fall and Marion suggests that now, while the soil is still warmish, is the perfect time to feed them. To feed her hellebores Marion uses a 20-20-20 fertilizer.

More tips and pictures of Marion's garden in an upcoming post...


24 comments:

  1. Great advice!! I have already weeded so I might give the grow max a try. It doesn't get as cold here but I do want to give my garden a good start if possible.

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  2. What a beautiful garden and what great advice! Looking forward to the next posts :)

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  3. Great garden and lovely vieuws. It don't looks like it's autumn there already. Still great colors to see.
    I don't do a lot of preparing just now. Only when frost is forecasted I give the plants who are not so happy with the cold an extra blanked of soil.
    I wish you a wonderful weekend Jennifer

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  4. This post couldn't be more timely. With a new to me garden with barely any landscaping my thoughts this week have been on Fall colour. Marion Jarvie's garden is an inspiration. In the two months we've been here we have reclaimed the kitchen garden from knee high weeds. We dug in compost and will be planting a Fall crop of winter rye which I hope will enrich the soil and keep the weeds at bay.

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  5. Thanks for passing along all these tips! Marion's garden is amazing!! Love all the subtle shades of fall colour. It must have been a great time spent there listening to her. Wendy

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  6. What a beautiful garden. So colorful - I would have been very distracted, too! I love that gardeners are constantly thirsty for more knowledge - and that usually it's the ones that have gardened the longest that are the most interested in learning more! Thanks for sharing some of her tips.

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  7. Her garden is out of this world...makes me look at my garden in a different way. Such great advice for preparing the beds. I wish she was in this area because I would attend her lecture in a heart beat!!

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  8. Marion has so many different textures and brilliant colors in her garden. It's just beautiful.

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  9. Oh Wow! What a stunning garden. Great advice re the mulching for the winter. I live in Alberta and will be putting the last of the mulch on the flower garden tomorrow. It really helps to cut down the weeds and protect the plants. I will often scraope away the old mulch and layer in compost from the compost bin and some peat moss. Adding amendments to the soil really makes a difference. I have to reaeat how stunning this garden is. Your photographs were splendid! ~Thea

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  10. What a fantastic garden, so much colour from foliage as well as flowers, we could all learn a lot from a visit there.

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  11. Her garden is a joy to behold - unfortunately my garden is decidely colourless compared to hers which is kind of depressing I cannot afford to buy plants specifically for a season so it is all jumbled for year round interest, but it certainly doesn't have the impact that Marions does.

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  12. Spectacular garden! Excellent tips as well, especially the one about top dressing the flowerbeds. I was all on top of that last year but I'm running late this fall...but the weather seems to be holding and I may yet have time....

    Sheryl @ Flowery Prose

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  13. Great tips, Jennifer, and such perfect timing.
    We have been getting our gardens ready for winter, for well over 3 weeks now.
    Hopefully it will be done soon! :-)

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  14. I just became your newest follower. I loved your post of the beautiful gardens and informative tips...and so beautifully presented!

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  15. Some good tips there...and Oh...what a fab garden she has.xxxx

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  16. You´re a wiser woman than me, I don´t do anything... even though I know I should - but somehow I always feel overwhelmed by it all..!

    http://tinajoathome.com/

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  17. so much work when you live up north and are tempted by semitropicals

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  18. I am going to try putting my mums next to the house; as she said, what do I have to lose? I'd never thought of putting mulch down now; it makes sense, though as long as my fall to do-list is, I seriously doubt I'll get it done this year. This sounds like it was an excellent talk, but as much as I'd like to get more tips on putting the garden to bed, I would love to hear Marion give a talk on creating a garden with all-season interest--wow, what a gorgeous garden to illustrate this!

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  19. What a resource Marion is -- mot just her advice, but her examples of some beautifully planted gardens.

    I agree with mulching in fall, and try to do it with compost and chopped leaves. But a layer of traditional wood chip mulch will keep the ground from warming fast enough in early spring, so it helps to remove any woody mulch in late winter when you want the soil to warm up.

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  20. What fantastic planting. How does anyone get a garden to look SO good So late in the season ! Bet the talk was very informative too.

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  21. Hi Jennifer
    Marion's garden is soooo lovely! I have only seen it in the spring but wow - it's gorgeous in the autumn as well. And those tips are excellent - things like adding soil and mulch now. Hmmm….after cutting everything down - will I still have the energy? That is the question! thx for the tour and the advice.

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  22. Interesting ideas. I leave most of the plants up until spring, then clean up in early spring and mulch in late spring, after the soil has warmed.

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  23. What a stunning garden. And thanks for the nudge to go out and feed my hellebores! I had completely forgotten.

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  24. I have always wanted to weed my garden and then apply a layer of mulch in fall but always run out of time. I hope next fall to do this.

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