Two weeks ago, when my zinnias were still blooming gangbusters, I was dreading the coming cold and inevitable death in the garden. But then on Halloween weekend, we got a blast of cold air, and literally overnight most of the annuals in my garden turned brown and wilted. After driving up to that depressing sight for over a week, I decided it was time to do some clean up. It also helps that we’re anticipating a very cold spell the next few days, so I took advantage of an afternoon with temperatures in the upper 60s.

While cropping off dead blooms on my mums and pruning back wilted hollyhocks, I had some time to think, and here’s what came of it.

  • We have now lived in this house longer than I’ve lived anywhere as an adult. Which means I have perennials that I planted as tiny little new plants from the nursery that are now big enough to be divided. And I’ve already divided my lily bulbs once, and they could use it again! I love sharing plants, and this helps me give back to all the people who helped me get started.
  • While some annuals were gone immediately after the first tiny frost, there are a few that are out there still going strong. Some were in spots that were somewhat protected by other plants, but maybe others are just stronger plants. I’m telling you, there’s just no beating the quality of a Proven Winners plant.
  • I completely forgot I planted parsley! I found it when I pulled up the skeletons of my basil plants. Apparently the basil grew so fast and big that it dwarfed the parsley and I didn’t even think to look for it. Note to self: allow more space between the basil and other plants next year.
  • The lemon verbena did not spread as much this year. Thank goodness! Maybe it’s finally slowing down some, since this plant is now about six years old. But I think the real reason is that my dogs laid in it through the summer. It was a win/win. The dogs smelled nice and lemony, and the plant stayed within its bounds.

The new-found parsley. Now I need to find some ways to use it while it’s still fresh!

The best thing about the clean-up: my garden looks pretty good again, and not so sad. There is still plenty out there that’s looking good, and taking out the dead stuff allowed it the space to shine. Bring it on, Polar Vortex, my garden and I are ready!

'Little Annie' coneflower from Proven Winners is still blooming even on Nov. 12!

‘Little Annie’ coneflower from Proven Winners is still blooming even on Nov. 12!