Out with the Old In with the New

Out with the Old In with the New

It’s that time of year again. Halloween is here, daylight savings time ends this weekend, our fall foliage has peaked. Leaves carpet the ground and we are all 

Don’t cut your entire garden down. Leave some of the seed pods for the birds.

planting like crazy, trying to make a big difference in our own and our client’s gardens for 2019. Gradually, we are cutting back our gardens, making sure to leave some stems up for our native tunnel nesting bees and some seedpods for the birds. As we clean up, we are planting hundreds of bulbs between the newly revealed crowns of the plants. 

In this lovely landscape, the leaves are allowed to remain at the base of the shrubs, including the native Itea with the beautiful red fall foliage. 

What are you going to do with all of your leaves? I consider leaves one of the best organic gifts for the landscape. I leave them wherever it makes sense, allowing them to carpet the ground between my shrubs, protecting shallow rooted plants like rhododendrons and mums, slowly decomposing and adding nutrients. Did you know that the leaves are host to all kinds of beneficial insects and butterfly larvae? So many of our creatures overwinter in leaf litter. If you rake the leaves off of your lawn, SAVE THEM! Pile them up and make compost out of them. Pile them up on your veggie beds. Mulch your garlic. 

Gardening this way takes a little getting used to. We are so programmed to have a perfectly clean landscape going into winter. BUT, it is so much extra work for us and we are doing the creatures that share our world a great disservice. For the past two years, I have been experimenting with some of the beds in my lower backyard. I left the stems of perennial sunflowers, Joe Pye weed, and ironweed up all winter. In April, I cut them, chopped them up, and put them right back on the ground as mulch. Bulbs and perennials emerged right through them. The stems and the fallen leaves were the only food I gave these areas and they grew right back, healthy as can be. 
Chopped up stems in early April with bulbs and perennials emerging right through them. Welcome to the brave new world of sustainable maintenance practices!

I am NOT saying I do this in all of my beds, nor do we do this in all of our client’s gardens. I AM saying to open your mind to the possibility of new techniques and try it on a small scale. When you do cut plants down, do it as efficiently as possible. I couldn’t possibly do my fall cleanup at this age without my garden sickle. I keep it in a dedicated holster on my tool belt. Click here to watch a goofy video that Diane and I just made showing how it works. Once you have used a sickle, you won’t go back. And you will be giving them as gifts to every gardener you know. 

Thank God for my garden sickle! Cutting down a giant, frosted, soggy hosta with pruning shears is pure torture. One swipe of my handy-dandy garden sickle and voila! It’s done. All gardeners should own one. They make a GREAT gift. And don’t forget the holster so you don’t lose it. 
This Saturday morning is the last Garden Walk of the season. It is a free walk when I will demonstrate what to cut and not to cut in our demonstration gardens. We will take a look at what is still in bloom and attracting pollinators the first weekend in November, which plants have interesting stems, foliage, or berries, and learn about protective measures that you can take for your roses and evergreens. 

This Sunday, Diane is offering TWO more sessions of her popular Succulent Pumpkin workshop. The last one filled up in 3 days with only a single Facebook posting! Grab your friends and register NOW. Details are below. It is so much fun. We

We have the prettiest houseplants and the nicest containers. We can repot them for you and give you care instructions. I will be offering my Houseplant workshop in a few weeks. Register today. 

hold these workshops in our cozy greenhouse. While you are perusing the Events calendar, be sure to check out the next three offerings. I am going to teach my Houseplant class that was postponed in early October. Leslie is teaching a Harvest Floral Design Class. That will take us into the middle of November at which point the greenhouse will transform from a craft classroom to a Holiday Greenery Design Studio for the remaining six weeks of the season. Wow, it’s happening so fast! Our final workshop, Winter Porch Pots, will kick off the holiday decorating season. 

Out with the old, in with the new is our mantra this week. The half price clearance sale on leftover outdoor plants (excluding evergreens and holiday plants) is now underway. Within the next 10 days, all of our plants will either be sold or planted. We have so many really wonderful plants left. Their leaves may look tired but the roots are healthy and ready to fill a space in the garden. This Thursday night on Facebook Live at 4 pm (note the even earlier time) I will be replanting a small area of our garden that my staff has been steadily clearing out for the past few days. With garden renovation still going on, it will be interesting to see how we can take a bit of time NOW to transform a key spot that will showcase some interesting plants in 2019. Of course, we will be adding bulbs between the plants too. Tune in and watch live or simply go to the Natureworks Facebook page and click on Videos where they are all archived. 
Ilex verticillata is also called winterberry. It is a deciduous holly that I grow in great quantities in my yard and harvest for holiday decorating. We just got plants in this week and they are on sale at 20% off    #growyourown #feedthebirds 
So what is the “in with the new” part of the equation? So many new plants are
Come on, admit it. Don’t you need some smiling sheep ornaments right about now in your life?

actually arriving for the holiday season. We have tons of winterberries and more coming today (and Diane is putting them on sale at 20% off for the next two weeks), live evergreens such as blue spruce and Nordmann fir, quart sized evergreens for windowboxes and porch pots, native wintergreen, and so much more. Inside the store we are starting to unpack our new Christmas ornaments and decor. Each day when we arrive we all check out the new merchandise and squeal with delight. 


With a mere 8 weeks left until Christmas, Diane and I spent a lovely afternoon checking out our NEW CT Christmas tree grower! We are SO psyched. We walked through fields and fields of the most magnificent Fraser firs we have ever seen. We 

As the leaves fall off the trees and the gardens gradually get cut back, my mind turns to evergreens. We grow and cut so many of our own evergreen boughs. We start harvesting the week of Thanksgiving and cut fresh every few days until the week of Christmas.

will be bringing them in fresh weekly starting the week of Thanksgiving. We also have contracted with a small CT grower to make our Fraser fir wreaths by hand using the freshly harvested greens from his farm. That will be supplemented by tons of unusual, colorful evergreens from my own yard and those of my employees. Last year we bought a roping machine as we were unhappy with the quality of the white pine roping we were buying in. We will be making our own beautiful roping again this year, and welcome custom orders. 

NOW is the ideal time to plant bulbs and organic hardneck seed garlic. Planting in early November allows them plenty of time to root in. The ground really doesn’t freeze around here until the end of the year. The cold nights we’ve had were chilly for us, but the plant roots don’t care about the air, they only care about growing roots. 
Dutch iris for cutting, giant Alliums, and creamy yellow Camassias are all bulbs that you can plant now for early July blooms. Look at how they pop up through the perennial purple Centaurea ‘Amethyst Dream’ in our north border. Heaven.

We still have a great selection of bulbs in stock, including all kinds of giant Alliums, the lovely creamy yellow Camassia shown in the background on the right, all kinds of tulips, lots of really pretty and unusual daffodils, and much more. Last week on 

Pot up Amaryllis bulbs now. 
We have GIANT bulbs. There IS a difference. Grab our handy handout in store on how to have them bloom year after year! 

Facebook Live I explained how to pot up hardy bulbs for forcing. Now is also the time to plant up your tender bulbs such as paperwhite Narcissus and Amaryllis to give as holiday gifts or to grow on your own windowsill. I plant my tender bulbs in batches, so that I have a non-stop supply of blooms when the dark days of winter descend. We also have pre-cooled hyacinths in our refrigerator, ideal for hyacinth forcing glasses. These, along with a collection of houseplants, will work wonders as you transition from outdoor gardening to indoor gardening. 

Plant your organic hardneck seed garlic this week. We still have a good supply. Each clove makes a head that you will harvest next July. It is the easiest edible crop you can grow!
My motto is an old one that I have on a garden sign hanging on my wall:
“When the world wearies and society ceases to satisfy, 
                       there is always the garden”.            -Minnie Aumonier
These are difficult times for our environment, our country, and our society. I am trying very hard to stay balanced and positive. My respite is the garden. I was outside all day on Sunday. I weeded, I planted, I gathered seed pods, harvested carrots, stored lots of stakes and tomato cages, and started getting my edible figs ready to bring into 

Let your garden help you meditate on thoughts of peace this week. Nature heals us.

the back garage. The leaves were brilliant. The air was brisk. I forgot all about the news for an afternoon. I was at peace. I got fresh air and a good physical workout. AND I got so much done that I will be SO grateful to re-discover next spring. Take to the garden in the fall and let it soothe you as it does me. Plant more perennials and shrubs, pop in bulbs, plant garlic. Recycle and reuse all your leaves. Listen to the birds sing out their pretty songs as they thank you for making YOUR yard such a great home for THEM. Trust me, it really does help. 

Happy Halloween and happy November everyone. Come in for a visit and get inspired. I hope to see you this week at the last Saturday morning garden walk of the year….