I keep thinking one more good day outside will wrap things up for the year, but that last day never comes. There is always something else to do.
I have almost finished the vegetable garden, and it looks so nice under a blanket of mulch, and with the paths swept clean. The raspberries still are producing and so I can't cut them back yet.
I don't follow the proper protocol for pruning them, I am afraid, but they produce well.
Instead of cutting back the second-year canes and leaving the first-year ones, I whack them all back to about 6 inches above the ground. I repeat, this is not correct procedure, but it works for me.
Next year, there will be a new look along the border of the garden with the parking space and the street. I am letting the old forsythia that was cut down last spring grow back again, the lilac is much healthier after it got some space around it, and I have a new redbud.
The Rose of Sharon continues to do well with some late summer blossoms, and hostas are enjoying the shade under the shrubs. I am going to have to dig in the cocoa shell mulch there as the new puppy, Mufasa, enjoys it too much, and replace it with some shredded material from the city's pile.
I still have plenty of Knock Out roses and coreopsis, osteospermum and monkshood in bloom in the front. I started to cut it all back, but the flowers proved to be irresistible, and now will stay until low temperatures finish them.
It is good to cut hollyhocks way back, as that will reduce the carryover of rust into the new season. I planted several of a "black" variety last spring and the plants did well in their first year. Now they should bloom early and long next year.
My neighbor, Gene, gave me a bucket full of daffodil bulbs last week, and great-grandsons Noah and Owen assisted me with planting them. I gave them each a trowel and a bulb and let them choose the spot each time. There certainly will be some nice surprises in the spring!
This is not the time to prune back ornamental grasses, which will give you year-round enjoyment if they are left alone through the winter. The rustle in the wind is pleasing, and the plumes are beautiful when covered with hoar frost or snow. Then they can be cut down to about 6 inches in the early spring.
Another advantage is you will have more energy to tackle that heavy task when spring approaches after you rest up all winter.
If you are going to mulch flower beds for the winter, wait until the ground is frozen. The purpose of the mulch is to keep the ground from the freeze/thaw cycle that heaves roots out of the ground by keeping it consistently cold. Leaves falling on flower beds can be left in place without troubling your tidy conscience because they are an ideal mulch, loose and draining well.
I have had a number of questions about the methods for holding geraniums over the winter. I have written about this several times and do not want to use up column space again. You can find the information on my blog if you would like to refresh your memory. Just go to www.advertiser-tribune.com and click on Blogs and you can read all about the way that works for me.
I have rambled on for two or three weeks about the clean-up jobs that have to be done, but they are different for every gardener and I will tend to my own business now and leave you to get on with yours.
Janet Del Turco is a local gardener and a graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program.
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