Preparing garden for winter

We had lovely & warm summer this year. Lot of sun with blue skies. Nice temperatures and perfect weather for beach life and (of course) gardening. Then came autumn which has been long, warm and... well, a bit rainy lately. All together a nice combination I would say. And now, before autumn darkness turns into winter coldness and white "snowness", it is time to prepare garden of Villa Hattarala for this new fourth season. I hope I can guarantee a good and relaxing winter rest for all my green friends and also those small folks underneath.

Garden gloves ready for work
So, garden gloves on and let's start to work!

Most of those seasonal flowers can go already. Remains of these beauties can be put to compost bin and soil can well be recycled on flowerbeds. Empty pots will get a quick wash after which they can go for a rest in the shed. Or if you want why not plant some "winter plants" in them, such as Calluna vulgaris

Garden furniture has to be cleaned and then taken in the shed to prevent any big damages during the winter. If you have any summer decorations in your garden remember to take them in as well. Unless your deco can survive cold and snowy winter. My collage of mixed treasures had to go. Let's see how it will turn out next year.

Collage of mixed treasures
Clean all the flowerbeds by cutting withered plants and remove weeds. It's not necessary to cut all withered plants as they do decompose during the winter and fertilize the beds. They also work as insulators during the coldest season. I cut only the biggest ones and those which looked really dry and dull. The surface of beds can be lightly raked to make it loose and allow it to breath. If needed, use also some special autumn fertilizer and/or garden lime to ensure healthy winter rest for your plants.

The lawn should also be cut although the growth is not so strong any more. If you leave the lawn too long for winter it might get some damages and then you have problems in the spring. At the same time fallen leaves will be ground and will gradually decompose and improve the soil (natural fertilizing). If you grind the leaves you don't need to rake them off but if you don't just rake your garden and add leaves to your compost or put them under the bushes. After cutting your lawn it could be a really good idea to spread garden lime on your lawn also. There are also these special autumn fertilizers you can use. If you live in a house with a fireplace you could even think about using ash to replace these ready-made products (bare in mind what you've been burning in your fireplace as there might be some toxic substances mixed to the ash).

Lawn needs to be cut

The compost bins have for sure been filled many times during the summer and also during this cleaning process in the garden. Now it might be a good idea to go and mix them a bit. Just take a pitchfork and turn the content of your compost inside out and upside down to make sure all is well mixed. You could even cover your compost for winter. Try not to but twigs and other similar hard parts of plants to your compost unless you can cut them into smaller pieces with a shredder. These hard parts don't decompose as quickly and make your compost a mess. I don't have a shredder so I need to take my twigs to a local landfill. Today I loaded them on a trailer which I borrowed from my neighbor and will empty the load tomorrow morning.

Usually all cuttings of trees and bushes should be done early spring. So in the autumn you don't really need to think about this. But there are some plants you could cut now - in the end of growing season. Cherry and plum trees for example. If you cut them too late in the spring some sap might run out of them and they can get dry. I did cut my cherry and plum but just a bit. Took out mainly the dead, try twigs and some root spouts but didn't really reshape them. Sleep well my darlings and prepare yourselves for next summer!

When your work is finished there is one more thing to be done. Clean your tools and arrange them to the shed. It is so much nicer to start working in your garden next spring when your tools are clean and you can find them easily.

Next step is to enjoy autumn and start planning the next season of gardening. Go inside, light some candles and have a glass of wine. You've deserved it!

- Mika -

The last harvest

Today I made the last harvest in our garden.
It was time to taste our pears.
We had three.
Just as we had last autumn.
And these three were...

Pyrus communis

Pyrus communis

- Mika -


A day at Botanic Garden of Helsinki

The location
Today I visited the Botanic Garden of Helsinki. It is located in the heart of Helsinki, just next to railway station. The weather was perfect for my visit. Sun was shining and the air was crisp & fresh - just like it should be in the autumn. At this time of the year the garden is also very peaceful. I met there more birds and squirrels than other human beings. All this was perfect for me as my idea was to walk around with my plant list and my camera making notes and taking photos. And without any extra interruptions. We will have an exam in less than two weeks time at the college and I really needed some exercise.

Main Garden behind a bush
Autumn is here as I have told you earlier. This means the nature is no longer in full bloom but preparing itself for long and cold winter. Flowers have mainly withered and trees have dropped a lot of their leaves. But there is this phenomenal symphony going on with autumn colors (ruska). This symphony filled the air today. Or what do you think?

Cotoneaster lucidus
Sorbus alnifolia
Aronia x prunifolia
Ribes aureum
Sambucus nigra
Sambucus nigra
Juglans mandchurica
Acer ginnala
Ulmus laevis
Viburnum lantana

For the exam I should learn to identify 125 plants (trees, bushes and climbers) and name them both with Finnish and scientific names. Today I learned a lot, but I still need to do another visit next week. My camera battery ran out today after heavy 3 hours use and after that it was no use staying any longer. There is about one  quarter of the garden still left to be examined. I do hope I'll have time next Friday to visit the place again.

In the end of my viisit I had a great pleasure meeting with this gentleman. A total stranger to me. His story was touching and his words full of wisdom. Hope life can teach me the same way.

The gentleman

He is 85. He used to be an engineer. Retired nowadays. Recently he got interested in trees. Spends time walking slowly around the garden and picking up some tree seeds. But he is slow with learning new things. On the other hand he has all the time in the world. He in not in a hurry, not anymore. He asked my help to identify one tree he had seen earlier. With tremulous hands he took his digital camera and started to look after the photo he had taken. It was 'Juglans mandshurica'. Great, old individual - just like that gentleman. With those tremulous hands he took a piece of paper and a pen out from his pocket and wrote down the name. He was hoping he would be able to read his own writing later. At home he would then check it from his 90 years old encyclopedia. Gentleman wanted to learn something new. He still has time. So do I. So do we all. Let's not waste it.

Such a great day with such a great ending!


- Mika -


Mystical Magical Morning

I was driving today my usual route from Porvoo towards Saari manor in Mäntsälä in the morning. While sitting there behind the wheel I couldn't help but wonder the beauty of that early morning moment in autumn. It was about 07:10am and the sight was breathtaking. I just had to stop, open the window and breath that clean and crispy air for a moment.

There is something mystical with autumn haze as it hangs there above the fields - surrounding those islands of trees and bushes and floating slowly without any defined destination. The ground, the pale haze, the dark forest and the sky colored by rising sun and morning clouds create phenomenal layers to the landscape. This landscape is an embodiment of pure beauty of nature.

And as if this wasn't enough to make one feel amazed there are also these autumn colors. First it only looks like a mixture of yellow and brown in different shades but as the sun rises higher the truth is gradually revealed. Tree tops blaze like fire with all those tones of red and orange. The forest which at first seems just dark in color is actually full of greens, blues, browns and yellows. The shoulders of the road landing from the forest towards the ditch are like patch works of lichens, mosses and twigs. Silvery grey, velvety green and spicy brown - sophisticated yet wild. If looked carefully one can even spot some brightly colored mushroom caps here and there. One of them red with white dots. The fields are striped after harvest and morning sun makes them shine like gold and silver as the beans touch the dew which have landed on them during the very early hours of dawn. White sheep stand quietly on a meadow and black crows sit on electric lines above them observing every move.

The air is bright and getting brighter every second. This is a short moment and then it is gone. Morning has broken and it is time for the first steps of a new day. There is taste of autumn on my lips and scent of purity around in the air. And my journey continues.

Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for the springing fresh from the word

Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall, on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God's recreation of the new day
(lyrics by Eleanor Farjeon)

- Mika -


A view

Today I give you
A view
Should I say
The view
Through an arch
From a side terrace
To the garden
There at Saari manor

- Mika -