Autumn is not, by any stretch of the imagination, my favorite season. There is too much to do before winter snows arrive. And, all there is to look forward to be falling leaves, snow to shovel, icicles to knock down and dreary sunless days. I know, I would have a whole different outlook if I skied or skated.
But, let’s get to it. The leaves are falling and there is a lot of raking to do. It used to be easy when you could put them on the street curb so the city could pick them up. That certainly has changed. Now you have to bag them. I know, it is all for the good of everyone. No complaint there. But there is something else you can do. Find a nice secluded spot in your yard and pile them there. Soak them down with a hose a few times and you will have the start of a nice compost pile. In a couple of seasons you will be producing a whole lot of humus. Those leaves rot relatively quickly and produce a wonderful product that you can use as potting soil or mulch. It is worth a try.
While you are doing all that raking, be sure to get underneath the bushes and evergreens. Prune off broken and dead branches and get rid of leaves. Right there, under those plants is where insects and slugs and snails overwinter. Deprive them of their habitat and you’ll have a much better garden next year and you will have saved yourself a lot of work.
If you have tall evergreens in front of your house, it might be a good idea to build some plywood frames to lean over them against the house to protect the plants from icicles and from snow falling off the roof.
Now is the time to plant your spring bulbs. The selection these days is fantastic. No longer is it only tulips, though they still do predominate. While the selection might be somewhat better, the best deals are at our own garden centers and home improvement stores. Don’t buy just on price; compare bulb sizes on the bags and select the largest bulb for the dollar. Some of the best buys are the bags with 3 types of bulbs, you get a nice selection, whether it be 3 varieties of tulips or daffodils or 3 totally different types of plants. If you do go to mail order, you will find some bulbs for “naturalizing.” These are small bulbs and will yield small flowers, but at about 15 cents you can buy a lot and have a natural planting in the yard.
With tulips remember to plant varieties such as Red Emperor for a very early, striking display. Darwin tulips work for mid-May bloom. Daffodils come in more varieties than I have ever seen before. Yes, they’re predominately white and yellow but these days there are interesting orange markings.
A must bulb is Galanthus nivalis or snowdrop. This delicate white flower will bloom in very early spring, even before the Crocus. I like them because they spread very quickly. A few bulbs this year will yield a couple of square feet of them in just a few years. The crocus comes in a wonderful array of colors, yellows, white, pinks and purples. They are inexpensive (about 15 cents) and I like to get a hundred and plant them throughout the lawn in clusters of 3 and 5 bulbs. Take advantage of the weather and treat yourself to a few bulbs that will lift your spirits as winter ends.