As the gardening season winds down, we enjoy the cooler weather as we begin the work of putting our gardens to bed for the year. Time to assess what worked, what didn’t and any changes we’d like to make for next year, while it is all still fresh in our minds. Perennials can be divided and moved now, getting a jump on next spring. If you haven’t ordered your spring bulbs yet, hurry so that they’ll arrive in time for planting before the cold weather sets in.
Always I have mixed feelings this time of year. The perennial and annual plants look the worse for wear and the weeds I never pulled have gone to seed. I anticipate happily the end of chores and the quieting of the voice in my head that nags me to get this or that done. On the other hand, I know I’ll miss the garden strolls and all those smells that speak of plant and earth. I’ll miss gathering blooms for flower arrangements, a pastime that never fails to bring me peace.
So, instead I turn my attention to the houseplants that get me through the cold months ahead. The poor things have languished from lack of attention all summer and now I make up for it by repotting and thinning the ranks. Many times I take cuttings to start anew when the original plant has become too overgrown to manage easily.
I favor the bright flowers of cool season tropicals, like those originating from South Africa, that tolerate my sunspace where temperatures can dip to forty-five degrees on frigid January nights. Kalanchoe, pelargoniums, jasmine, streptocarpus, succulents, and cacti all flower well and lift my spirits when the days are dark and snowy. Central heating dries out the air and I set my thermostat too low for most lush tropical plants to prosper, so my “air-cleaning” staples are peace lily, arrowhead vine, Boston fern and snakeplant. They are sturdy and their green foliage soothes the eye when all outside is brown, gray or white. Embracing each of the four seasons makes us resilient; particularly we gardeners who, in each one, find something to grow that gives us pleasure.