Oh my, time once again to put the garden to bed for winter.
Kew has mighty forklifts to place heavy citrus box planters into storage. But I have my own heavy-lifting apparatus – my son, Peter, who comes, without complaining every October, to help me lift heavy pots of tender plants into their winter quarters where they will be protected from frost and sub-zero temperatures.
Peter arrives at my request, without complaint or reservation, and helps me (without a grumble) to guide weighty pots of fuchsias and pelargoniums, astelia and echeveria, abutilon and aeoniums, into protected custody.
There is much to do this year. I have been away a lot and the neglect is showing. A lot of shrubs and trees have outgrown the space allowed.
I have been busy pruning. Clipping and snipping.
I’ve snipped back hardy hibiscus and magnolia, climbing roses and plum trees. I’ve clipped the wings of honeysuckle, yellow dogwood and purple smoke bush.
Last winter, heavy snow did a lot of damage. I don’t want it to catch me out again this year.
I have been walking the garden with a critical eye, looking closely at shrubs and trees and asking them: “Will you be able to hold heavy snow or will you crumble and break?”
If I don’t like the answer, out come the loppers. I must say, I have been more brutal this year than in the past, cutting and chopping without mercy.
There is still much to do.
Piles of fallen leaves to rake. Yellow, decaying hostas to snatch up and dispose of. Water to be emptied from the pond but first fallen leaves to be fished out and sent to the compost pile.
The solarium is already chock full of tender plants. Echeveria. Sedums. Abutilon. Pelargoniums. Fuchsia. Aeoniums. Things I have become attached to over the years, things I would hate to lose.
I looked at the weather forecast and I see I have a few good days of sunshine before rain comes. I hope I can get everything done in time.
I am also looking around the garden and seeing things I need to change; fences that need repair; pillars that could be installed to create fresh interest; paths to clear to restore their original line.
Am I up to all this work?
Well, I still love being in the garden, doing the work of a gardener, but, yes, it is becoming more and more of a challenge.
But, hey, what was I just saying. Am I forgetting something. Ah, yes, my son Peter. What a helpful soul he is.
“Hey, Peter! I was just thinking, if you have time . . . “