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...