Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
October, 2000
Regional Report

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The proverbial woolly worm on the move is a sign that winter is coming.

Prewinter Chores

Woolly worms are on the move. Any old-timer can tell you that the colors on the hairy caterpillars predict the type of winter we'll have, but nobody quite agrees on what the colors mean. It is true though that when the woolly caterpillars search for spots to hole up for winter, frosty nights are here to stay.

Choosing Container Plants

When I see woolly caterpillars crossing the road, I know it's time to come out of seasonal denial and start making some serious gardening choices. It's like spring when I have to decide what to plant, but now the decision is what to keep and what to leave to die outdoors.

My favorite container plants need to move indoors pronto before they freeze to death. I've already been moving the most tender plants in and out each day so they can enjoy the last sunny days of fall yet be protected at night. This shuffle routine is tedious at best, so it is time to decide.

The Winter Keepers

Now I'm rearranging my house to make room for the "winter keepers." Good space is at a premium. The bay tree and the rosemary topiary definitely stay. Do I put the mandevilla vine in a sunny window or under lights? Perhaps I'll set it in the minimally heated stairwell, where it will go semidormant and maybe hang on until spring? Do I have enough cool but not freezing storage space for the cannas, caladiums, and amaryllis bulbs while they rest? Where should I put the dahlia tubers?

Keeping Some Exotics

Beside the mainstay plants, I have to try to keep some of the unusual ones. I simply must keep that gorgeous new golden coleus, the rather huge and wonderfully fragrant jasmine, and the papyrus from the pond (complete with its own water-filled saucer). Last but not least, should I keep all the scented geraniums - and do they stay in pots or get strung up and go dormant in the basement? This is serious life-and-death stuff. No wonder that every year about now I suffer a recurring and serious case of greenhouse envy!

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