Garden Report: December 6

Today was a day of pruning. I usually reserve cutting back perennials until spring, on the theory that it's best to cut them back when they will quickly grow to refill the space. But a few needed cutting back today.

Like my massive Salvia clevelandii 'Pozo Blue.' It was five feet tall and six feet wide and really woody in the center, so I cut it waaaay back. I also took cuttings for the seven or so people who have asked me for them, and those are rooting in the kitchen now.

Salvia clevelandii Pozo Blue

I put the cuttings from the salvia on top of some cardboard I put down to prepare a new bed for next year. I am going to be growing some squash-y things in the front next year (I'm half tempted to try tomatoes there, safe from dogs). So I put down cardboard, threw some compost on top loosely, and them piled up the salvia trimmings to dry out. Once dried, the salvia and the rose trimmings nearby can be chipped down into mulch.

Killing weeds in the front beds

I also cleared out the tomatoes for the year. They were still alive and would have lived another few months, but it's been too cold for pollinators to help them set fruit, and too dark for the fruit to ripen, so I just cut them back and composted the plants. I'll be growing something other than tomatoes in this bed next year (I'm currently thinking black beans).

Cleared out tomato bed

I have one more major pruning this winter: the Cecile Brunner rose, and our neighbor's wisteria. The wisteria needs to be cut to the main stem (the tenant over there was altogether too gentle with it and it got kind of out of control this year), and the rose is ready for a major pruning. I'm thinking the wisteria may be pruned any day, but I usually do the roses in January, so I might wait to do the two together. It'll be a nice big pile of stuff for the compost when I do.

Rose and wisteria awaiting pruning

Between the salvia, the tomatoes, and mowing the lawn today (irony: our lawn-mowing season is really the winter, when grass has enough water to grow, but it's too cold out to actually enjoy having a nice green lawn), the chickens have a lot of work to do. I ran over some leaves from the garden with the lawnmower to chop them up and make more room in the compost, because the enormous pile of tomato plants and salvia was taking up a lot of room. And when I came inside, there was a message from the neighbor saying she had more leaves for me. Happy, happy compost pile. I just need a more reliable chipper (the main issue is getting such a beast without getting a gasoline one).

Chickens working on the compost

And in this season of chopping back, we have the new leaves of the anemones. Through much of the winter, these are one of the few flowers in the garden, and I'm always happy to see them appear right as the days go from really short to practically non-existant. They're also my sign that it's time for the autumnal application of compost to the fruit trees.

Anemone coming up

We have a lot going on inside right now, so it was nice to be out in the sunshine for a few hours.

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posted by ayse on 12/06/08