It's not over yet, but you can see the end of the gardening season from here. If you're embarrassed because you haven't cut back your perennials, you might be surprised to hear that some of our garden gurus haven't, either -- and they're proud to admit it.
We checked in with three top gardeners in the Twin Cities to see what they're doing to get their gardens ready for winter. Our experts are: Don Engebretson, author of five garden books, who also runs the Renegade Gardener website; longtime garden writer Lynn Steiner, whose most recent book is "Landscaping With Native Plants of Minnesota," and Mike Heger, garden author, lecturer and owner of Ambergate Gardens in Chaska.
DID YOU PLANT BULBS?
Don Engebretson: Not this year. But to me a lily in bloom is the most beautiful plant on Earth.
Lynn Steiner: No, I don't really plant a lot of bulbs. Aside from some species tulips, I haven't had much luck with bulbs.
Mike Heger: We added a couple of martagon lilies, but other than that, we're really set in the bulb department.DO YOU CUT BACK YOUR GARDEN IN FALL?
Don: I'm firmly in the camp of not cutting anything down. I just use a light rake and a hedge clipper to clean up in spring.
Lynn: I didn't cut back anything. Normally, I would cut back a few things that are icky and squishy in the spring, but I had too much going on this year.
Mike: My philosophy is unless I've had some serious disease issues, I don't cut anything back in fall. If you cut, you have to mulch because what you have is exposed [plant] crowns.DO YOU APPLY WINTER MULCH?
Don: No. I'm done enabling my plants. If it wants to party in my yard, it has to do so without any babying from me.
Lynn: Nope. I'm growing mostly natives now and they're completely hardy, so I never mulch.
Mike: We only mulch things we planted after Aug. 1 or if there's something that's tender.DO YOU COMPOST ALL WINTER LONG?
Don. In 25 years I've never added to my compost bin in winter. Why? It's just too cold.
Lynn: I compost all year round. I keep adding to my compost and turning it until it freezes solid.
Mike: We add to our compost over the winter, but I'm not out there turning it. I get to the point of when I'm done, I'm done.COMPLETE THIS SENTENCE: NEXT YEAR, I'M GOING TO ...
Don: ... put a greater emphasis on hardscapes. As you evolve as a gardener, you start to desire more structure. You crave more of a landscape than just gardens.
Lynn: ... I'm going to find more places to plant natives in my garden. After writing about natives, I've become so fascinated by them.
Mike: ... stay on top of the weeds. It seemed like we had just the right conditions for weeds when they germinated. We had more quick weed than I've seen in 35 years.
Connie Nelson • 612-673-7087