HELEN LANG: Enjoy the autumn colours while they last

I can’t get over the colours in the deciduous trees as they put on their best display of drama for this year

I can’t get over the colours in the deciduous trees as they put on their best display of drama for this year. They look as though they are lighted by a searchlight, from within. They appear to glow!

The maples seem to be saying, “Come on winter! I’m not afraid of you. Do your worst and I’ll be back in the spring looking more beautiful than ever!”

Meanwhile let’s enjoy the colours while they last … all too soon we’ll be cussing the leaves as they pile up, wet and soggy, waiting to be raked up and added to the compost heap to become a rich mulch for next spring’s gardens. Not a fun job but its worth it when you spread that rich green manure.

The nasturtium seed I so hopefully planted several weeks ago, has produced some very delicate -looking foliage. The plants appear to be extremely reluctant, rebellious even, and are announcing they may not bloom at all this year.

I suppose I could cover them with Reemay cloth as some sort of protection — or they could be allowed to die with dignity, which seems more likely than my trying to keep the Reemay from flying  off and sailing down the street to terrify some innocent new driver who thinks she is seeing a ghost! I hate to think I planted them knowing they probably faced an early death.

My middle daughter, Leslie, says she will come back next weekend to help me plant all those bulbs I simply had to have. If we get one fairly decent day I think I better not wait, just get out there and do the planting myself!

Actually there is probably not that much rush. I recall one year when I discovered a bag containing daffodil bulbs sitting patiently waiting for some attention in a utility room cupboard in January. I planted them then, fearing the worst but hoping for the best (typical gardener’s attitude) and they did bloom. I seem to remember it was in late May. Those bulbs never recovered. They flowered once, but that was it.

I have bought several kinds of small bulbs: scilla, crocus, dwarf iris, dwarf tulips, a mini-narcissus called “pipit” — all small as they have to dwell on a modest balcony amongst pots of dormant lilies, dahlias, iris, carrots and a clematis. It’s a jungle out there!

Garden books suggest you plant the small bulbs as soon as you can manage so they can start to develop roots this fall. They don’t have a lot of bulk to sustain them when they are out of the soil for a lengthy period of time.

I think bulbs are wonderful! They give you hope for a beautiful spring when skies are grey, it is chilly, your nose is running and it’s raining by the buckets!

 

 

Helen Lang has been the Peninsula News Review’s garden columnist for more than 30 years.