Written on November 19, 2010 at 8:50 am , by James A. Baggett
Not sure about where across this country you dig in the dirt, but here in central Iowa we just experienced the longest growing season ever (or at least since they started recording such stuff). It’s almost Thanksgiving and here in Zone 5a I’ve still got roses blooming…and ‘Plentiful Yellow’ pansies and ladybells and purple coneflower. Vibrant deciduous leaves have held onto their woody hosts far longer than usual. A pair of ‘Diablo’ ninebark are still draped in a chocolatey russet, my Japanese maple is a dissected crimson-red tapestry, and my witch hazel is burnished a curious color combination of yellow-orange-red. Our unseasonably warm weather has allowed this lakidasical gardener to take far longer with far greater leisure than usual to complete my typical autumn chores: shredding piles of bur oak leaves for winter mulch, cleaning and stacking an out-of-control collection of terra cotta pots in the shed, precariously hand-pulling sodden leaves from the second-story gutters, coiling the hoses and finally shutting off the outside spigot for the season. My most cumbersome cobalt-blue glazed pots—planted with tender variegated bananas and normally long since tucked away in an unheated attached garage for the winter—still sit flanking the front walkway. And how can I compost that pot of pretty purple petunias if it’s still boasting blooms? I even spread out the planting of some 300 or more spring-blooming bulbs—two tulip collections from Colorblends, a bunch of different pink daffodils from Brent & Becky’s Bulbs, reticulated iris from McClure & Zimmerman, and a handful of the priciest bulbs I’ve ever purchased ($90 for just three Narcissus ‘Color Magic’) from Grant Mitsch—over the luxurious course of three glorious weekends. So with a forecast of freezing rain and snow lurking, allow me to take pause from my holiday preparations and express my sincere thanks for an especially forgiving fall.