Temperatures dipped into the 30s last night but if only it would frost we’d feel justified in having taken the gardens apart this week. The Rose Garden might have the hardest to let go of, it was still so pretty. One of the volunteers called it “Slaughter Day” (which this time of year will henceforth be known as) and said she might have stayed under the covers if only she knew what we’d have to do. But as hard as it was, we were as soft-hearted as possible. We left a few salvias and ageratum for the bees — even though removal of most of those plants revealed that the roses are still blooming away.

In the North Garden we took all the tender plants out including every dahlia but one that was covered stem to stern in bumble bees, poor things. Even though dahlias can stay in the ground until a killing frost signals their tubers to shut down and prepare for winter storage, they seem to do just fine pulled out a little early.

We stuffed the truck with the Cutting Garden saving buckets of flowers to give away. And along the way we stuffed the greenhouse with stock plants.

It’s kind of like the ark in here. We pulled keepers, one by one and two by two (our very favorites), out of each garden to pot up and winter over. Right now they’re all going through transplant shock and most look pretty tough. (I wonder if that’s why more people don’t save their tender perennials?) We want them to keep blooming for our display inside so rather than cutting them way back like we should to help them recover, we put them in as much shade as we could find and have crossed our fingers that they’ll perk up. Some, like our enormous porterweeds (Stachytarpheta spp.), went right up on their benches because they won’t fit anywhere else. If only it were cloudy… but because we’ve tortured them this way for years now, we know they’ll be gloriously worthy of their space in another few days.

I’m still debating about taking in stock plants at home. I’m in no hurry to dig out my dahlias yet but I haven’t taken cuttings from my velvet sage, Plectranthus ciliatus, or Cuphea ‘David Verity’. No doubt, if I babied those through the shock of un-planting, they’d keep blooming inside for awhile for me too. Do you have any keepers you dig up and overwinter inside?