I do not have a fall to do list

Purple coneflowers along with the Autumn Joy Sedum

Purple coneflowers along with the Autumn Joy Sedum

Okay, are you ready for my garden revelation?

I do not have a to do list for fall. I really do not have one for spring, summer, or even winter.

Echinacea (purple coneflower) blooming October 2014

Echinacea (purple coneflower) blooming October 2014


I am not sure but lists make me crazy and I am not a conformist nor am I follower of the masses. I am a ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ gardener. Yes, some may say unorganized or even lazy. Shoot I have neighbors that think I am off my rocker but I do not care. I just go with my gut- my inner voice telling me that this may grow here and this is how it will work…Sometimes it works and sometimes I have to move it and try again.

Encore azalea bloom

Encore azalea bloom

So do not feel bad if you download or print off a list that says:

  • mulch with this
  • prune at this time
  • bring in on this date
  • dig up because
  • move it because (and then you never get to it)

I do not know why but every year I say “I should follow this list” from other gardeners and every year I do not follow any list or advice I read. To put it out there- my gardens and yard are doing fabulous without all the “lists”.

Am I bit controversial?

Maybe, but my yard is the talk of the neighborhood because I have a green lawn and a beds full of flowers growing under oaks.

July 2014

July 2014

Remember I live under (13) 50+ Oak trees on a 1/4 acre plot in a huge subdivision where cutting down trees is a crime. Acorns are my enemy and every other year 5 of the Oaks in the front yard produce a bounty of acorns that could feed the world’s population of squirrels for years! Okay a slight exaggeration but one year we had over 4 tons! Then the leaves which are too much too compost and that continue to fall through March (Red Oaks keep their leaves until the new ones start to emerge).


Oh my goodness do I hate raking leaves. Even though I had my trees limbed up a few years ago the bounty of falling leaves measures about 4 or 5 truckloads (we had a F250 Superduty filled up higher than the cab even after we jumped in and crushed the leaves in the bed of the truck!) This does not include the leaves that fall in the common area adjoining my back yard where they blanket the area with a layer of 4-6″ of leaves.

Fall 2013

Fall 2013

So to have a list of to dos for fall would only require me to have rake leaves and acorns!

Next on the list- pruning-
It has taken all summer for this abelia but I only pruned the dead and waited-patience is a gardener's mantra

It has taken all summer for this abelia but I only pruned the dead and waited-patience is a gardener’s mantra

I do not prune unless I know the branch is dead. In nature no one prunes and the trees, flowers, and shrubs grow just fine. I do not even prune my compact hollies (foundation shrubs) unless there is a straggler or in the winter I make a wreath or arrangement with the branches. I do not even deadhead my flowers! The birds eat all the seeds usually and so I will cut the coneflowers and black eyed susans down about November when the birds are done feasting on the bounty and my Autumn Joy Sedums and mums are done for the year.

To be honest, I may even wait until the dead of winter to cut things back since here in VA since we can have 60 degrees in December. I just look outside and walk around and see what needs to be done. Okay, confession, sometimes I have been known not to get to the cut back until March!

Encore Azalea

Encore Azalea blooms 2-3 times a year will continue to bloom through November

Raking leaves and acorns.

This is not until November usually anyway. My hostas are struggling to stay and I usually do not rake the shade bed until all the hosta leaves have faded away which may be November. I still have plants blooming so that keeps my fall blues away. What really stinks for me is: hand picking the acorns out of the beds and the lawn which takes me months (so a list is not useful for me because I do not want to be reminded of raking and picking acorns).

Ugh, how I hate leaves and acorns!

As for moving plants, well, lets just say I do that anytime from March through October and maybe even November. I do most of my gardening and moving plants around in spring because I am so excited about being out in the garden and I find how large the plants grew the year before and usually they need to be divided. If I buy plants and do not get them in the ground, I group them next to a tree and mulch with leaves and keep them watered until about January when it actually freezes here. For the colder climates, digging a hole and putting the pots in it and covering with leaves works too (I used to live in zone 5 and had done this several times).

Mini Penny hydrangea still trying to bloom through fall

Mini Penny hydrangea still trying to bloom through fall

I have been gardening for many years and even though I may not know the genus or family names of many plants, I am pretty good at working with nature and achieving beauty and blooms. I work with red clay soil under oaks and in many areas of my yard the ground was sterile and contaminated 6 years ago. I work with the hard ground and put paths in, keep beds mulched, and I do not amend the soil so that the plants will already be acclimated to grow in the red clay.

My secret -my soil was covered in horse manure when I first started and then covered in 4″ of wood mulch the first couple years (when we moved here) in many beds where I found the soil to be contaminated with oil and grease from the previous owners. Mulch breaks down and conditions the soil which helps naturally amend the soil so without fancy fertilizer and other products, my soil is healthy.

“My yard is my canvass and nature is my paintbrush”  My mantra

Shade garden with Thomas (RIP) in summer of 2010

Shade garden with Thomas (RIP) in summer of 2010

I do use fish fertilizer and that is when I see a plant not performing as it should. I use Dawn or even Ivory soap to eradicate pests. I do not add any amendments to the soil and I dig the hole, crumble the dirt, work the roots, put in the ground and fill in the hole and keep watered for 30 days the first month. Gardening is about passion for me and  there is no handbook that I follow.

Gardening without the rules!

That is what I do. I follow my heart, my instinct, my passion… Mother Nature is the ruler and I am just but a humble servant enjoying her beauty and bounty. I make mistakes. I even mourn the loss of a plant. I am not afraid to try a spot and wait. After all, patience is a ‘virtue’.

October 2014 Rudbeckia Hirta (black eyed susans) sown this spring blooming

October 2014 Rudbeckia Hirta (black eyed susans) sown this spring blooming

Creating. Inspiring. Gardening without the rules!

2014/2015 copyrighted material C Renee Fuller @ the Garden Frog Boutique

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