Gardener's Grapevine 2012.10.24

Written by David Green.

I love fall, even though the harvesting and dry leaves make my allergies go nuts. The trees and fields being harvested are so beautiful. The downside to such beauty is the barren cold winter months. Winter is so very necessary to our plants in this part of the country. The earth and trees need down time to sleep, renew and regroup.

With our warm winter and early summer last year the trees took a lot of stress. They lost a lot of their fruit due to the freakish weather. Some fruit trees did very well while others had next to nothing or lost most of their fruit early. Apparently, the giant oak tree in front of the Johnson’s next door did not suffer at all. That tree has dropped bushels of acorns. I can hear them pop on the driveway when someone drives over them. This is not so great for Mary as she has to clean them up from everywhere, but the squirrels are in heaven storing the acorns for winter.

Speaking of squirrels, the little buggers are so funny. I cleaned up some dead flowers that had gone to seed and prior to cutting the dead stems and disposing of them, I cut the dried seed heads off and left them in the flower beds. Later, I looked out the window to see squirrels running across the yard with the whole seed head that I had cut off. That had to be a very painful job to carry it up a tree as the coneflower seed heads are like thistles, very pokey.

What do you do with your seeds on the dead plants? Usually I let the dead stalks stay until spring so the birds can eat them when the snow is covering everything else. The only reason I cut the ones I did, is because when I’m in a cleaning up mood I tend to get carried away.

Speaking of cleaning up, don’t be in a huge hurry to clean everything out of your perennial beds. Some plants need a nice cover of leaves and dead vegetation to protect against the cold winter weather. My great grandmother Hila used to have me cover her roses with leaves every fall so they could act as insulation.

Other plants like the iris or hosta do not need such protection. If you are cleaning up your landscaping go ahead and trim the hostas since they have all frosted now and are not reaping any benefit from their leaves any longer.  While you are cleaning up, remember to take a note pad and write down which hostas need to be split in the spring. It is much easier to do the splitting if you write it down in the fall. By the time the hostas are full open, it is too difficult to split them and they will spend the rest of the summer trying to round themselves out again. They like to be round and will put a lot of effort into it.

By splitting the hostas while the leaves are still tightly rolled and small, they are a lot easier to handle. It takes very little for them to reround their shape as you will be splitting them while they are still partially dormant. I have a very grubby notebook in my gardening shed, but each spring it is a job I’m glad I do each fall.

In addition to cleaning up the beds, don’t forget the lawn. If you use chemicals it is time to apply winterizer. I also like to aerate in the fall; it gives the grass somewhere to stretch its roots in the spring.

While it is a lot of work to get everything cleaned up for winter you will be glad you made the effort. When the bleak winter winds blow, you will look out onto a tidy sleeping landscape. Besides, it gives our city workers job security cleaning up those giant piles of yard waste. They do such a great job of keeping everything clean and tidy, and they never complain. Thanks to our great city workers.

  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.
  • Front.starting
    BIKE-A-THON—Children in Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program brought their bikes last Tuesday to participate in a bike-a-thon. Riders await the start of the event at the elementary school before being led on a course through town by organizer Leonie Leahy.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016