I feel blessed living in the Northeast after Sandy as we only lost power for a week without major damage. Over 100 feet of fence did come toppling down but half of it was rotted and needed to be replaced anyway. So for the last few weeks I have been in storm clean-up mode like many of my neighbors. Most of the leaves had been raked before the storm so the big jobs left were cleaning the garden beds and mulching the tender plants.
Pulling the rhubarb is always bittersweet as I wonder if I should freeze one last bag for a winter pie or chutney. But without fresh strawberries it seems better to put the remaining stalks in the compost heap to feed next year’s crops. Some asparagus emerged late this year and we were treated to a few tender spears in October. But now only lacy stalks covered the ground waiting to be cut.
The Montauk daisies became spent after Sandy so there was little to do except cut them down and cover them up. A few roses continue to push on through hoping to transform a mid fall bud into a late fall flower. A new fig tree required special attention as we are on the north most boundary of where it is advisable to plant these Mediterranean delights. Juana harvested 10 figs (the squirrels got 7) this year, when we expected none. We’ll see if it survives its first winter.
Most things come up easy with a rake as their roots have separated themselves from their early season sprouting's. Hostas, in particular, lay flat and mashed on the ground as they have tired from a season of bearing the weight of large and tropical looking appendages. Golden rod and other late summer weeds are ready to spread their seeds for next year’s growth.
The garden is deflating like a week-old helium balloon no longer floating and filling in the landscape but collapsed with just a hint of air. Skeletons of forsythia, viburnum and other deciduous shrubs and trees have long since dropped their leaves, which quickly went from a fluffy pile for my granddaughter to jump in to a mass of slippery detritus.
Only the daylilies and irises are holding up as their seed pods stand to attention during the day and their wilting leaves are still too firm to easily pull from the soil. The bayberry is still holding on to its leaves and berries waiting for wind and birds to remove them.
With most of the clean-up chores complete my next focus is to stack wood near the house and start splitting more to replenish what I burn. I should be able to split more than enough before snow makes that chore difficult or impossible. Every morning now there is a frost on the ground reminding me that time is short.