Thursday, October 9, 2014

Poor, Neglected Fall Garden

My garden is looking very sad these days.  Too many trips away from home, too few rainy days, too little attention, and too many hot sunny days in late summer.  All of this adds up to some dried up and crunchy plants around the yard. 

I returned home from two weeks away and found the front porch completely dried up.  The out-of-season spring wreath is just the icing on the cake.

The birdcage planter that was so lush and full all summer... well, this is what happens when you forget to water it for over a month.

The Knock Out Roses did ok, so this bed doesn't look horrible.   I took out 8 dahlia plants from the front of this bed, which improved the neatness factor quite a bit.   The unidentified and deer-ravaged plant on the right of the picture needs tone moved to the back yard, inside the fence, where deer damage is less likely. 

The bed beside the driveway isn't looking as neat.  This bed has a real mish-mash of perennials, all in some state of end-of-season decline.    

There are about a half dozen dahlia plants that were neglected yet valiantly put out lots of blooms... and now look like half-dead, flopped-over skeletons.   I'm planning to pull them up and plant them in more carefully-planned arrangements for next summer.  Dahlias can be overwintered in the ground here in Raleigh, but I think I'll just overwinter them in some peat moss in the garage and plant them in the spring, since I'm disturbing their root systems.

In the back yard, the foundation bed was an experiment this year.   It's done pretty well, but I've learned a few things that will better inform what happens here next year.

For the most part, the impatiens did very well. They all grew from tiny little cell-pack starts into big 2'x2' mounds, which is what I was hoping for.

A few weeks ago, a friend gave me lots of perennial divisions for my garden, and here you can see the five tall stalks of Ginger Lily in the back by the fence, and in front there's a division of a peony that I hope will survive the the transplant.    In my mind, this becomes a lush and full section of the garden next year, especially if I put in some more annuals to fill in a bit more.

Despite being in the back yard, right up against the house, the impatiens did sustain some deer damage this year.  I think it's because I left the gate open for a few nights in a row, which was an open invitation to the deer who I know have been in our driveway at times.   I know they can jump the fence if they want, but this is the only evidence of deer inside the fence in over a year since we've lived here, so I don't think they normally do.  I just consider this my lesson to keep the fence gate closed!

The large hostas in this flower bed (really, throughout the whole back yard) just can't take the summer sun.   I noticed them starting to crisp up in mid July. I watered them well through August, and still, this is what they did.   We just don't have enough shade to keep hostas happy.  Not sure what I'll do with them next year, but clearly, something needs to change for them.

In other sections of the back yard, the hot summer sun combined with not enough water has led to sparse, spindly, dried-up plants of all types.   This bed has annual verbena which is so pretty when in flower, but needs regular watering and fertilization to look its best.  Guess what it was missing this summer?

The weeping cherry dropped its leaves in August.  August!!!   This section of the yard is just so, so dry.   And the soil is terrible - just sand, really.   So everything I planted in here is really struggling to survive.  

The Shasta Daisy 'Becky' might survive, as might the Veronica 'Sunny Border Blue' and the Mexican Petunia in the back.  

I'm not so hopeful for the phlox and hummingbird mint that has totally dried up.

One thing I'm happy about - the hydrangeas I planted have been happily putting out big mop-head flowers.   I'm hopeful they'll survive the winter and put on a bigger show next year.  I'll plant the annuals further away from the next year, to give them more room to fill in.  (This variety is supposed to only get to 3' round, so the site near the foundation should be ok, I hope!)  I'm going to cut off these flowers and bring them inside today, they're begging to be loved, aren't they?

So that's the summary of my late summer / early fall garden here in sunny Raleigh, NC.  Gardening here is a learning process.  One year under my belt, I'm still trying to get the hang of the weather and the rain and the soil.   

Coming up in the next couple weeks, I'll be planting daffodils and tulips, along with some other things that tempted me when I placed my order.     How about you? What's happening in your garden lately? I'd love to hear about it! Please leave a comment to let me know!


  1. About right now, my garden flowers look so bedraggled. The poor things needed attention, but since I had eye surgery and couldn't lift or bend over, they were on their own. My husband tried to talk to them, but they only wanted my attention. I love, love, love verbena and I had beautiful pots of them after my sister told me to buy fertilizer for blooms. They really put on a show. Then, the days changed. The cool weather. The change to a fall sun. I don't know what it was, but it happened to the whole neighborhood. Anyway, they all died. So sad. But next year I know what kind of fertilizer to buy and hopefully we will have a big show of color.

    About hosta. You know how I love, love, love hosta. Here is a good tip!!!!!!! Cut them down on or around the 1st of July. Sometimes we set the mower high and mow them. Be sure to have a Kleenex in your hand because it may make you cry. I do every time because I really hate doing it. But never fear. They will come back stronger and even a lighter shade of green. I do the same with blue salvia and my yellow day lilies. It works like a charm.

    I must do a post about my flowers that are "over the hill." It is such a sad day in my garden but there is only hope for the next year. I wish my yard had some good bones for when the winter snows fall. When a garden has good bones, winter is just as lovely. I put a wreath on the garden shed. That is all the good bones that I have for the winter season.

    It takes a while to get a garden the way you want it. We used to move plants around like furniture. It took several years before we got our gardens in PA just right.....then we sold it. It was way too much for us to handle.

    I have loved everything in your gardens. You did a great job planting and placing. I know that you have more heat to deal with than we have up here in Ohio, but it will be fun to see what really works for you and what can take the heat. Have you ever heard of a trumpet vine? I have never had one but my sister says that you can't kill them. She is saving seed for me.

    1. Thanks for the tips on the hostas - I will give that a try next summer, since our growing season is definitely longer here than it was in MD, they should have plenty of time to come back to full, lush life. I've heard of trumpet vine, but I can't figure out a place to put one. thinking........

      Thanks for stopping by, glad to hear from you. Hope you're enjoying your fall season.