The chilly kiss of winter finally touched the garden last night - about two weeks later than usual. We normally have our first heavy frost around the middle of November, but even with the recent cooler temperatures and rainy days, the real cold has held off for a while this year. Early this morning I found frosty grass and pansies with white-painted edges for the first time. The last tomatoes and the mandevilla are definitely gone now.
But there are other blooms still holding their own. We were gone last week and returned to find even more blooms on the sassanquas and two surprises - one of the hydrangeas put out a small, but pretty mophead, and my miniature white rose has bloomed one last time. Both are special plants: mother gave us the hydrangea our first Christmas in this house, and the rose came from my Aunt Agnes' garden. I consider it my inheritance from her.
There's still lots of fall deadheading left to do, and I am falling behind. The obstacle, tho, is wet ground. Two weeks ago we got 5.5 inches of rain and last week at least 3 more, so the ground is sodden. It's so wet that we are walking around the outside edges as best we can to avoid creating "holes" by stepping into the wet, wet ground. I cut the grass in the front and on the side on Sunday, but couldn't even try to cut the back yard because of the standing water in some places.
When I can get back outside to work - after a couple of days of sun and hopefully a bit more warmth - I should be able to catch up in a couple of afternoons. Meanwhile, I am enjoying just looking at the changes. All the leaves are down and the structure of the trees and larger shrubs is showing. The evergreens have come into their own as their deciduous friends have shed their leaves and color.
There's a peace about the winter garden, that's due in part to its emptiness. In two more weeks all signs of the summer abundance of bloom will be gone and we will do the holiday decorating with greenery and berries. After that we'll have the real cold - maybe even some snow. Then the solitary stars of the garden will begin doing their thing. In just six weeks there will be a few camellias, followed by the hellebores, and then the earliest bulbs. Heck, spring is almost on its way!
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