Late October, Burning Bright

IMG_0743.JPG Late October chores can wait: Taking a moment to pause and enjoy the beauty of imperfection

It’s post-frost, tidy-up season in my garden. Time to gather and clean-out seasonal pots, cut-back unattractive perennials, rake-up leaves and button-up the borders with mulch. This has been a busy year for me as I’ve begun to switch my focus away from garden design, and back to art. As a result, the garden suffered a bit of summertime neglect and I have my hands full this fall. But standing here today at the Secret Garden door —gazing out at the brilliant autumn colors— I realize that by taking on fewer projects, there will be more time for this place again in the coming seasons.

Dahlia Tubers ⓒ michaela medina - thegardenerseden Digging and cleaning up Dahlia tubers. See past post here.

Patient observation is a skill I constantly practice in gardening, and although I’m no master, I notice a bit of improvement here and there as the years pass. I’m a note taker, and thanks to my iPhone, I can both take notes and photos while out working to help remind me of garden tasks. After losing far too many Dahlia bulbs to forgetful placement, I’ve learned to flag them with tiny, red, plastic tags. I can easily spot these after the killing frost and safely dig and store my tubers in the basement. I also make note in my calendar —with audible alerts— as a reminder to pick up and plant spring bulbs. Early-spring favorites —such as Erythronium, Galanthus, Eranthus and Anemone, to name a few— must be planted in late summer or very early autumn for best results, but others —including most Tulipa and Narcissus bulbs— can be planted as long as the ground remains frost-free. So I’ve learned to shop the end-of-season sales, and often find great bargains. This is also true for deciduous trees and shrubs. A great garden can be built on a shoestring budget, with patience, luck and a bit of good timing.

Tulip Bulbs in Basket â“’ michaela medina - jpg Over the years I’ve learned that Tulips can be planted quite late in the season, so I often grab them at bargain basement prices. What I can not plant, I will pot up and chill for forcing.

IMG_0776.JPG Tidying up the Secret Garden room is a fun, end-of -season chore. I love to rearrange my chairs, tools and books and pull house plants back inside for winter. Everything looks so cozy and inviting, nestled back into its place.

Shears-and-Cape-Cod-Weeder-in-Secret-Garden-Room- Terra cotta pots are especially vulnerable to cracking during the winter. While I will leave  frost-proof stoneware and glazed pots out as recommended by their makers, I always bring my un-glazed clay urns and vessels in by the first week of November.

Photography â“’ Michaela Harlow. All photographs, artwork, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of Michaela Medina Harlow and/or The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you!

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!


A First Look at the Festive Season Ahead. Shop the Holiday 2014 Collection and receive $9.95 Flat Rate Shipping with promo code 15USA004 at!

2 Replies to “Late October, Burning Bright”

  1. Deb Weyrich-Cody

    There’s been no Killing Frost here yet – but it IS imminent, by the feel and smell of the air… I’m guessing Crocus are also on the Safe List for later planting? Thank you for sharing your marvellous photos and that tip about (bright red) tagging for Dahlia (they were spectacular this year: )
    Do you dust your storage bulbs with a touch of sulphur? xo D.

  2. Michaela

    Hi Deb, No, I have not experienced trouble with fungus and rot, so I usually do not treat with sulfur; however dusting tubers with a fungicide is a good precautionary method. I like to provide the tubers with good air circulation and keep the temp just above freezing, in that 40-50 degree range where I store many root vegetables.

Comments are closed.