Frost and Dew. After the dreariness of the last few days I really welcomed a sunny brisk walk in Fintry Provincial Park. Certain parts were a little bit icy but the sun was filtering through which highlighted dew drops on the fading foliage.
Before heading out through my garden gate I paused for a moment and observed many quail foraging in front of my neighbour’s garden. We have frequent visits from the quail at this time of year. I always find them fascinating to watch.
There were so many contrasts created by nature. The bright red leaves and branches of mahonia and dogwood set against the deciduous trees and skyline. The washed up log also added to the scene.
Like most of us in the Okanagan BC I was most surprised to see snow arrive in early November. (Nov 2nd to be exact). As in my last post I thankfully did manage to move the bulk of the tender plants into the garage. I have two remaining tomato plants in the greenhouse which were completely frozen.
The consequence of these varied temperatures has really confused the natural course of events in the garden and surrounding area. It was really unusual to see orange golden leaves on the snow. As of writing this post, the subsequent rainfall melted the snow and everything looks fresh and green again.
The leaves that would have normally dropped from shrubs and trees in the garden have actually remained longer.
It caught many of my remaining flowering plants by surprise. In particular the sunflowers and rudbeckias.
Needless to say that I am happy that temperatures have warmed up again and I have been busy cutting down some of the dead stalks on the perennials and raking a few more leaves. I am still enjoying some colour from plants in my containers which I sheltered during the unexpected drops in temperature.
I am making the most of these fall like conditions before Winter truly arrives.
I had planned on doing a few more garden maintenance jobs outside but the early snowfall beat me to it. I was aware that the snow was coming but didn’t expect the full extent of the snowfall. My husband and I just managed to get the tender** plants moved from the greenhouse to the garage. I have done this for a several years now; basically since I moved to the Okanagan. The plants go into a dormant stage so there is very little watering to be done. I also enjoy stepping into the garage and seeing the odd plant in bloom during the deep mid winter months. At the moment a small hydrangea bush which I have potted up has some lovely blue/mauve blooms. Another advantage is having herbs readily available although the plants die down somewhat towards the end of winter. The thyme, sage and a few chives come in very handy over the Christmas season.
Yesterday my husband dug up the rest of the beetroot, parsnips and carrots. I can’t believe how well the cherry tomato plants did in the greenhouse this year providing an abundance of sweet tasting produce from mid July until now.
With the garden blanketed under a layer of snow I now turn my attention to indoors. A tradition in my family is to make Christmas cake and pudding so I concentrated on starting to make these yesterday. It almost felt like Christmas while I was stirring the fruit and watching the large snowflakes fall.
I guess because I have an affinity with nature I like to bring nature indoors. In the next few weeks I will be potting up the paperwhites, hyacinths as well as amaryllis. I always find it difficult to time it right, i.e. getting them to bloom just before Christmas. Rule of thumb is to plant them at least 6 to 8 weeks before. (Sarah Raven has a good article on forcing bulbs www.sarahraven.com/articles/forcing_bulbs_indoors.htm)
Time to snuggle down by the fire and read a good book. Winter has definitely arrived early this year.
**Tender plants include geranium, fuchsia, osteospermum (african daisy), papyrus grass, new zealand flax and a more delicate coreopsis. I always overwinter my lacy-leaf maple and seibold maple. Having lost a few trees in pots in years past, I prefer to locate them to the garage.
It has been a month of beautiful sunrises and sunsets providing a range of colours from red to golden-yellow. In the Findleberry garden the hydrangea paniculata continued to put on a good show, however, sadly as the leaves fell I finally had to prune the fading flowers. I have dried some of these as they do add to the indoor fall decor.
Meanwhile I have been busy putting the plants to bed. We have plenty of leaves in the garden and they act as a very good insulator around the border plants. I also heap them onto the vegetable bed. They do eventually compost down and add to the soil base for next year.
Putting plants to bed for the winter
Most exceptional once again has been the fall views in Fintry Provincial Park. www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/fintry/. Most of the trees turn a golden yellow and are certainly a sight to behold. They contrast well with the remaining greenery as well as the graceful grasses.
I located a new variety of aster novi-belgii “Crimson Brocade” and picked up a berberis (atropurpurea “Gentry”) at Dogwood Nursery in West Kelowna. (www.dogwoodnursery.com). I didn’t realize that they stay open until Christmas. I bought a mixture of miniature bulbs including two varieties of scilla, tulip, crocus and muscari. Once again I have potted them up in containers and plunged them into the vegetable bed. This system seems to work well. I bring them on in the greenhouse next March and have early spring blooms on my porch.
Lastly my tender plants are still tucked up in the greenhouse but they will be moved shortly to the garage. It is not economical to heat the greenhouse in winter so I use the warmth of the garage instead.
My head is full of memories of our recent trip to England. My husband and I went unexpectedly for family reasons but we made the most of our time visiting London, a few quaint villages and some gardens. Fortunately the weather was quite mild and although fall was advancing, there were still plenty of blooms to be seen. I was particularly taken with the nerines, an autumn flowering bulb and the tall asters in my sister-in-law’s garden.There were plenty of bushes loaded with berries including cotoneaster, pyracanthea and hawthorn..
What captured me most though was the canopy of trees long since planted surrounding the edge of the garden. My sister-in-law had put a lot of thought into the type of tree specimen which has most certainly paid off.
There is a lot to be said for the British countryside. From walkways through farmers’ fields to quiet country lanes.
I always know when Fall is fast advancing when the blooms change colour on the hydrangea paniculata “limelight” and sedum “Autumn Joy”: They turn to varying shades of pink and stand out prominently in the garden.
Our summer was very different this year starting off with flooding followed by smoky skies and intense heat. I am now appreciating the cooler temperatures and the garden has perked up with second and third bloomings. I still have a few roses in bud and a few rose blooms.
There are other plants of note that have bloomed all summer long and are still in full bloom. These include rudbeckias (black-eye susans), zinnias, perennial phlox, perennial sunflower and even some of the plants in my hanging baskets. Within the next few weeks I will start to dismantle the baskets and containers as I do like to winter over the main plants.
The blue annual salvias that I started from seed in March are only now starting to bloom. As much as I like these annuals I will reconsider seeding this annual again as I do not get much benefit from it. The perennial solidago is now starting to flower. I love the yellow sprays. Last but not least are the perennial asters and crysanthemums. These are great perennials for the late summer/fall season.
I will be away from social media for the next couple of weeks while travelling overseas so posts will definitely be very limited.