Day of the dormant

This has maybe been the prettiest fall week ever and we have spent it celebrating the gardens’ downward spiral into dormancy — as well as its eventual rebirth. You know we have a schedule to keep before allowing the volunteers to take a well-deserved winter rest, so even though we still haven’t had a frost, we forked the dahlias out of each garden, relocating sleepy bumblebees to asters, mums, and salvias as we went along. (The dahlias would be fine left in the ground for a week or two after frost — in fact, a good cold snap helps the tubers prepare for dormancy. But we have never blamed losses on early storage. In our experience, some varieties, such as Karma Fuchsiana, just don’t winter over well, no matter when they come out of the ground. For more information about dahlias from a real expert, please come to Rick Peckham’s class on November 14 at 10am!)

Dahlias out of the Cutting Garden, drying off in the sunPlacing tulips in the Cutting Garden

We needed to get the dahlias out to make way for bulbs. A lot of bulbs. Five thousand and two hundred, to be exact. The volunteers planted hundreds of tulips in the nice fluffy soil so recently loosened by ousted annuals and dahlias. And in addition to tulips, we dug deep to plant enormous allium bulbs, poked fritillaria here and there, and drilled trowels into tough shrub-border soil to add a spring hit to the Enclosed Garden and south wing entrance with dozens of hyacinth, and new daffodils; hundreds of muscari, anemone, corydalis, and iris; and 1000 chionodoxa. With the gorgeous weather on our side, and all hands on deck, the bulbs went in the ground in record time, leaving us with plenty of energy to savor the season. 

Blackberry lily (Belamcanda chinensis/Iris domestica)Purple lovegrass (Eragrostis spectabilis)Wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa 'Claire Grace')Common teasel (Dipsacus fullonum)

Just because the gardens are crisping doesn’t mean there’s nothing left to harvest. Gail, Betsy, and I have been especially inspired this fall by Polly Hutchison of Robin Hollow Farm who led a flower arranging workshop yesterday and because Debra Prinzing, founder of the Slow Flowers movement will be our speaker for the annual Garden Design Luncheon, next Thursday. Debra promises to show us how living seasonally and locally can and should go way beyond the kitchen: into our gardens, and onto every flat surface in the house too. Click here to find out more and register for the luncheon and here for Debra’s flower arranging workshop on Friday. Don’t wait — space is limited.

Are you celebrating the day(s) of the dormant too? Are you planting bulbs this year? Are you still picking flower/foliage arrangements from your garden?