Welcoming winter to cut the loose ends

We all leave something not done at year’s end.

This year our list of loose ends began with perennial geranium divisions meant for the newly-cleared shady bed. They came from Janet’s sister’s garden. Free perennials - woo hoo! - enough to populate 30 square feet. They will be a welcome change from the obnoxious ostrich ferns we evicted.

However, those bare root pieces arrived here on the same day the soil surface turned ice-crusty. Being geraniums, they’re tough creatures and will probably be fine all winter in their paper bag in the unheated garage, yet we’d rather they be in the ground able to grow at the first thaw. So we’re watching for a warm day, a chance yet to pop them in.

Very soon, the geraniums weren’t at the top of the list any more. The pump trumped them.

Bigroot perennial geranium (G. macrorrhizum; not to be confused with the Pelargonium widely grown as an annual and goes by common name geranium) is one of our favorite groundcovers. We were very glad to harvest the excess from Janet’s sister’s garden to plant in ours.

Bigroot perennial geranium (G. macrorrhizum; not to be confused with the Pelargonium widely grown as an annual and goes by common name geranium) is one of our favorite groundcovers. We were very glad to harvest the excess from Janet’s sister’s garden to plant in ours.

All of the perennial geraniums are very drought tolerant, even as bare roots. We’ve left the thick roots by mistake, bare and above ground in summer, and found them still vigorous weeks later. These will be fine in a paper bag in the garage until spring.

All of the perennial geraniums are very drought tolerant, even as bare roots. We’ve left the thick roots by mistake, bare and above ground in summer, and found them still vigorous weeks later. These will be fine in a paper bag in the garage until spring.

The trouble with a warm fall: We just keep working away and one day the wind chimes that hang in the pond's spray are no longer tinkling but frozen.

The trouble with a warm fall: We just keep working away and one day the wind chimes that hang in the pond's spray are no longer tinkling but frozen.

The pump that trumped the geraniums

We didn’t get the pump pulled out of the pond. Knew we should’ve done it on one of those warm days in late November! The pond is not deep enough to insure safe passage for the pump through winter. If the pond freezes to its bottom, the pump may well crack, releasing oil into the water. Then we’ll need a new pump and a complete water change.

Can't lose the branch...

What about the blue branch? We can't rate it above the pump if dollars are the determiner - it doesn’t represent as much money as the pump. Rather, it’s priceless, an accidental find not likely to be repeated that’s become a major feature in our garden. As the landscape became more bare and the branch stood out we realized it needs attention. The birds that use it as their waypoint to the feeders have worn the paint, opening the wood to more rapid decay. Shouldn’t we use a warm day, if it comes, to repaint the branch?

All of this makes us grateful to winter.

If it wasn’t for winter we’d chase the never ending list every day of the year!

How do our southern friends cope?!

We suddenly notice the paint’s worn on our artsy branch. Gray wood shows where just last fall we renewed the paint. It’s juniper, wood that is pretty rot resistant but being bare is still an invitation to decay.

We suddenly notice the paint’s worn on our artsy branch. Gray wood shows where just last fall we renewed the paint. It’s juniper, wood that is pretty rot resistant but being bare is still an invitation to decay.

We're invested in this branch! We recognized the beauty of a groundcover juniper we were removing and so sawed it off whole, removed all the foliage and air dried it for a year before painting it blue and installing it in the garden.

We're invested in this branch! We recognized the beauty of a groundcover juniper we were removing and so sawed it off whole, removed all the foliage and air dried it for a year before painting it blue and installing it in the garden.

Squirrels use it as a jungle gym, and that takes a toll on the paint.

Squirrels use it as a jungle gym, and that takes a toll on the paint.

The real culprits are goldfinches, chickadees and nuthatches. The paint cannot stand up to the cumulative wear from thousands of avian landings, take-offs and beak scrapings.

The real culprits are goldfinches, chickadees and nuthatches. The paint cannot stand up to the cumulative wear from thousands of avian landings, take-offs and beak scrapings.