Sunday, November 4, 2018

Before, After Putting the Garden to Bed

My Zone 7a garden has been put to bed for winter. I have many before and after photos that show one season's growth rate and how it's all pruned and ready for next year's cycle. The before photos are how the garden looked either late September or early October. The fall cleanup began mid-October after our first freeze warning, and was completed (intermittently) over two weeks. 

I'll start with something pretty in the current state of the fall/winter garden, and that's my pansies planted in early October. These replace my summer annuals, give a fresh look now, and winter over to early spring.
A before and after look of the front flower beds is shown next. Notice all the liriope has been buzz cut for winter.
Before and after of the front corner of the landscape pictured below can also be seen in the background in the above collage photo. The little green fans surrounding the concrete pedestal were daylilies received as a giveaway from Mary's blog, planted the first of October. The more noticeable contrast is the snowflake viburnum against the fence (background) are cut back about two feet.  So were the nandina (heavenly bamboo) to the left of the viburnum (not pictured). Again, the liriope is buzzed.
Before and after of the knockout roses in the front landscape beds (below).
Before and after in the courtyard: containers were emptied and cleaned, and the cantilever umbrella (shadow in lower frame) is covered for the winter.
Lavender (and climbing roses) are cut back for winter. They are sheltered in this brick enclosed courtyard.
Back in the main landscape - the west wall - before and after is seen below. Zinnias, salvia, sedum, stray black-eyed Susans and coneflowers all cut down to the ground in most cases (also four o'clocks further right, out of frame).
Here's a before and after view of the eastern landscape wall, standing on the south end, looking north. Big changes: spirea, dwarf butterfly bushes were both hard pruned, Mexican sunflowers and hyacinth bean vine on trellis ripped out (annuals), and knockout roses against wall were pruned.
Below is probably the biggest contrast in before and after: a comparison of the south end of the landscape.
The Otto Luykens are cut back all around.
The western corner perennial hibiscus are cut to the ground, as are the hostas. The hydrangeas got a hard pruning. Only three in the bed and last hard pruned in 2015, they were overgrown. It is likely I will not see blooms next year as a result (next year's buds are mostly on old wood that was cut), but it was due.
A before and after view of the center back area. Again, hydrangeas (including my limelight) were pruned hard, hostas cut to the ground. 
Before and after of the wildest, southeastern corner of the landscape: the tree variety butterfly bushes and spirea are pruned, as are the hostas. You can now see the other two season cherub statues again, as well as another group of Otto Luykens in the back corner.
Cleaning up our landscape takes about 40 man hours, but it makes spring so much easier. I have a longtime gardener friend who helps me in the majority of this effort, but I am right there with him. There was so much debris, and most of it was composted (three trailers full), but several bags (mostly containers and lavender from courtyard) were recycled by the city. Stakes and tools were cleaned, hose carts covered, and all outside water valves were turned off.
If you recall in this post, we had some pretty major summer storm damage to trees on our two riverbank lots across the street from our home. 

Tree removal work began in July, and just ended October 31 due to so many rain delays (river rising and ground saturation). See the diagram below for before and after of the six trees removed.
The remaining trees were limbed up for a clean look after. The trees with undergrowth on the left are the neighbor's.
We also had our magnolia pruned, but it remains incomplete as of this writing. The before and after as it currently looks is below. Our objective is to take the tree away from the gutter and prune about three feet shorter. Remember, we had a growth inhibitor injected earlier in summer to retard future growth.

A couple shots of my last flower bouquets of the season.
The hydrangeas are still full, thanks to dipping them in alum, a great tip I learned from Mary a few years ago.
I ditched the fern and bought a pumpkin for the front porch, and used some magnolia branches to trim it out.
The landscape before and after, standing on the southern end, looking north.
Now all I have to do is rake the leaves from the maple at the utility pole, the Japanese maple and the Kousa dogwoods. Oh yea, and the riverbank sassafras and maple.
I love my garden in all its seasons, even when it's sheared for winter. It's cleared and cleaned, with enough plants for winter interest, and all ready for next spring's growth cycle. If you're not sure of your own agricultural cold hardiness, you can check this USDA map and find yours for optimal gardening. How are your garden cleanup efforts going? Do you do your work in fall or spring? There are advantages / disadvantages to both. I'd love to hear your feedback.

Thanks for your visit today!

Rita C. at Panoply


  1. Nice. Thank you for posting this. Pictures showed the difference between 2 seasons.

  2. Wow, your flower bed looks beautiful!