The nighttime temperatures have gotten steadily colder the past week, and Thursday morning I stepped out on the porch to discover that the death-knell had been sounded. The containers I had planted with Lava Rose and Lava Green coleus, Fiesta Ole double impatiens, a fern, and petunias that looked so good all summer and into the fall had finally been frozen. The photo is a close-up of the cascading plants in happier days.
I started container gardening in the past two or three years, but my containers always seemed to dry up before I got around to watering. A hint from Terry Yockey at Northerngardening.com fixed my problem. Along with the soilless mix in containers, Terry adds a water-retention agent. The one I used is called Soil Moist and I picked it up at a local hardware store. The granules are little polymer sponges. You soak them in water before you add them to the planting mix, and they release liquid gradually, keeping roots moist even if the weather is dry or you are out of town. The crystals are non-toxic and safe in horticultural applications. Not surprisingly, the manufacturer recommends you keep them away from children and don’t put them down the drain!
I took advantage of yesterday’s nice weather to play hooky from the computer for an hour to do a little fall clean-up in the garden. The cold temperatures Friday and Saturday nights stopped most of my perennials. The more tender plants I had in containers wilted completely. I’ve now emptied all the containers, except for three pots in a protected place on the front porch. I also raked up some of the leaves and put them in my compost pile. While things are moving steadily toward November brown, a few bright spots still glimmer.
First, how great is the fall color on this oak? The picture was shot near dusk so it may not capture it, but the tree has turned a beautiful russet color. Individual leaves have shades of yellow, red, and brown, but together they are the quintessential fall red-orange, like a flame of a tree. I love the pyramidal shape of this tree as well. A few flowers are still blooming here and there, too. The roses that were nipped by frost have opened; a brave little petunia survives (probably because it spills over on the pavement); and this sunny white and yellow mum is still blooming.
With Halloween here, the days for fall gardening are certainly numbered, but I plan to enjoy every gardening day that I can.
We’ve had two mornings in a row with significant frost and the thermometer on my deck showed about 30 degrees F at 9 a.m. today. The flowers, especially the tender annuals, are getting nipped, but frost looks becoming on this just-opening rose.