October 10, 2014

Fall Garden

New mulch (left) makes the shrubs stand out.  Beds on right aren't mulched yet.

My favorite time of year in Fort Wayne was fall. Around the first of September the St. Vincent boy scouts would start setting up for their annual Haunted Castle, and as I watched them progress with their fence-building and other chores, the huge old maple tree behind the old church would start turning color. By mid-October when the Castle was open for business, the nights were cool and crisp and the days were glowing red, yellow and orange.  For 20 years, I treasured each day, not wanting fall to end, and when Halloween came and went, and they broke down the fences and cleaned up the barricades until next year, our beautiful colors were nearly gone. Driving up and down that section of Auburn Road in November amid swirling drifts of brown leaves, the only comfort was the anticipation of the first beautiful blanket of new snow.

We gave up four seasons when we moved to Florida, but in the course of a year there have been so many days that have just blown me away with their tropical perfection, that I'd say it's a fair trade. Plus, fall comes to the beach in subtle ways. Most of the year the crotons which are so commonly used in tropical landscapes don't appeal to me, but this time of year I tend to seek out the hot colors of the spectrum, and darned if those crotons don't look absolutely gorgeous!  I'm glad I put off mulching until now. Against a fresh layer of dark brown mulch, my schefflera and crotons really pop!

We only got half the yard mulched though.  Down here you can't have dyed mulch delivered by the truckload; you have to buy it bagged at a place like Lowe's.  So I ordered 50 bags, which they fork-lifted onto my driveway on a pallet, and Robyn and Mark, my gardeners, worked nearly 2 hours spreading it out.  Only half the front beds got covered!  I'm afraid I'm going to need about 200 bags total by the time we're done mulching the entire front and back yard.

I yanked out the dying geraniums and overgrown lavender from the porch pot and found some amazing fall-inspired plants at Sun Harbor Nursery to replace them.  Their mums were just about to open.  I got there in the nick of time too!  There were about six plants left, so I bought two, but now I wish I'd bought them all.  I put one plant in the pot with a sweet potato vine and a coleus, and the other plant in the bed right off the porch.  I'm interested to see how a chrysanthemum does in the ground here.

Fall colors in the porch pot.

Today I'm going to the U-Haul storage room to pull out my Halloween bins.  I've decided to let Captain Morgan and Princess go through and choose what they want, if anything, from my decorations, and then I'll give away the rest.  The kids throw an annual Halloween party so they might find some of the decorations fun or useful.  On the other hand, with a baby on the way, they are trying to get rid of stuff to make room.  I almost hate to push more stuff on them.

Any Floridians reading this?  I'd love to know how you bring fall into your yard.  Please share your ideas or tips!

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