I always feel a little melancholy this time of year. It’s not because of the impending blast of winter.
My outdoor pots are filled with dead plants, their beauty destroyed by frost, and I can’t bear to look at them any longer.

Either can my neighbors. So I store my cleaned-out pots in the garage over the winter. But my co-worker, and lots of other laid-back container gardeners, store their urns and vessels in the same spot where they sat all summer - on the patio, deck, and front steps. With the dead plants intact.

 Last spring feels like eons ago when I was agonizing over the medley of plants that would fill my nine outdoor containers. What are my thrillers, spillers and fillers? Coleus or caladium?  Should I stick with purple fountain grass or try variegated agave?  Wouldn’t those mini cascading petunias look really cute in my patio planter?

But it only took a half hour to dig out the plants, toss their sad carcasses into a wheelbarrow and unceremoniously dump them in the wetlands (also known as the dried-up swamp) behind my house. I left the black dirt in the pots -- those bags of premium potting soil are pricey —  ready for next spring’s garden center booty.

Then I dutifully followed the cardinal rule: store terra-cotta, ceramic and cement planters in a protected place. Freezing and thawing can cause them to crack and break. So like Hulk, I lugged and lifted the super heavy pots into the garage.  New patio planters aren’t cheap.

My co-worker was likely watching an episode  of  “Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo” while  I was cleaning and protecting my pots from Armageddon. Her home’s twenty or so planters, chock full of bedraggled begonias, drooping spikes and other expired plants, sit outdoors all frozen winter long. Their dead brown form have an organic appeal and blend with the bleak November landscape, she said. And in May, sometimes the moneywort makes a comeback and sprouts among the devastation. The neighbors must think my co-worker flew to Florida for the winter and simply forgot about her pots

Do you follow the rules? What do you do with your summer container gardens over the winter?