Saturday, October 1, 2011

Free Falling

What do you do with all those containers and pots once the summer and fall annuals have been thrown away or taken inside for the winter? 

(photo at left was not from my gardens)

There are a couple of options: 
  1. Dump the soil on a flower or garden bed.  Clean out the pot with a mild solution of bleach and water, rinse, and let drain.  Either bring the pots inside and store or turn upside down outside.  Don’t stack inside each other, as the freezing and thawing could cause them to break.  They will be ready for next spring.
  2. If the flowerpots have drainage holes, you can use with outside winter decorations.   Dump and clean as above.  Pack the pots with something that does NOT absorb water.  You don’t want it freezing and breaking your pot. Use something lightweight like Styrofoam or packing peanuts for window boxes so they won’t become too heavy.  Use small rocks, pea gravel, broken bricks for ground pots to keep them from blowing over.  Soil, sand and kitty litter absorb too much water.
Cut evergreens at a sharp angle and insert into the pots.  A variation of evergreen types adds visual interest.  Evergreens such as holly, boxwood, and yucca add interest.  We aren’t planting, simply using tips and leaves. Insert these into the pots.  Next, add a little color. 

In the late fall, add colorful leaves, nuts, a small pot of mums or flowering kale, corn, or gourds.  If you use corn and nuts, wild animals may think you are offering a buffet and raid your pots.

In the winter, change to colorful berries, red twig dogwood branches, pine cones, plumes from dried grasses and dried flower heads.   At this point, some folks will add Christmas decorations. 

Change out the greenery if it begins to yellow or brown although once it freezes (yes, it’s coming) it stays pretty much the color it was when you put it in the pot. 

I suggest you use “pot holders” for any pot left out all winter.  They are the little “feet” to keep the pot off the surface of your porch or other surface.  This keeps water from pooling under the pot and causing pot and porch damage from freezing/thawing. 

A pot holder that works extremely well in adverse conditions is one made of wine corks.  Take four clean corks, nail together and put under the corners of your flowerpot.  Works well, uses free materials, recycles and is easily completed.

As I write this, it is a beautiful fall day and I think I’ll remove some of those summer annuals from my pots and plant in my garden.  I’ll let them have one last hurrah before getting frost bit.  I’ll take my annual grasses into the basement when I hear predictions of frosts and freezes.  I’m just sure I can make a day of being outside – isn’t that what fall days call to us?  
 Come said the wind to the leaves one day,
Come o're
the meadows and we will play.
Put on your dresses scarlet and gold,
For summer is gone and the days grow cold.”
A Children's Song of the 1880's

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