First Hard Frost


We had our first hard frost on the 17th; a low of 31 degrees.  It was cold enough to ensure that the dahlias, coleus, cannas, and other tender perennials were done for the season.


I awoke to a world dusted in white and came home after work to blackened foliage throughout the garden.


The first hard frost is a beautiful sight glittering in the early morning light, but terribly depressing by midday.


Oh well, it is mid-October.  Much better timing than in those years when the first hard frost occurs in mid-September and you’re left with weeks of warm temperatures and no late fall blooms.

There is still so much to get done here before the first snow falls and the temperatures plummet for the duration.  So far we’ve had a very balmy autumn.  Looking out over the next 10 days, the temps are expected to linger in the high 60s to low 70s with most overnights in the 40s and 50s.  But I feel as though I’m being lulled into a false sense of security, and one morning I will awaken to several inches of snow.

Still on the mighty to-do list: plant 300 or so daffodil and tulip bulbs; cut back and weed asparagus bed; weed and mulch raspberry beds; pick up remaining 20 bales of hay for sheep; clean out and winterize hen and duck coops (our farm animals have to be able to withstand lows of -20 degrees, so the coops are insulated and they have heat lamps and heated water dishes); sow fall seeds such as poppies and hollyhock; cut back and dig up the many dahlias in the garden and store in crates in the basement, along with the couple of canna lilies; mulch and protect roses for winter; put the vole/mice protectors on all the young fruit and newly planted trees in the orchard and garden; and if time permits, continue my weeding. edging and mulching of the mixed borders.  I won’t have time to get through all 13 or so (frankly, I’ve lost count) borders, but I’m hoping for at least half.

That list doesn’t include the multitude of things my brother takes care of before winter — wrapping the screened porch and gazebo, bringing in the hoses to store in the barn for winter, leaf raking, mulching and adding to leaf mold pile, turning compost piles one last time before winter, and cutting and splitting wood to season for next year’s winter (he only cuts and brings down a couple of dead trees per season, always careful to leave some as shelter for the wildlife).

It’s exhausting thinking about it, but it always seems to get done.

I should take a lesson from the dogs however, and just sit back and enjoy the beautiful Autumn.


Wilma, Tilly and Magnolia basking in the midday sun


7 thoughts on “First Hard Frost

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  1. Frost already? Your to-do list does sound exhausting. Bulb orders seem like a good idea until the time comes to plant them. My big autumn task is finding homes for all my tender plants.


  2. Oh yes, I’m afraid so. Our first hard frost is usually in early to mid-October, and not unheard of to have our first snow fall by Halloween. I completely agree on the bulb comment! The planting is always a bit laborious, but this will be the 3rd year of adding a couple of hundred naturilizing daffs to the orchard; I love the look in the spring!

    Do you bring all of your tender plants inside for the winter? I don’t have a greenhouse, so I would never be able to fit all of them in the house. I usually manage to salvage a couple of coleus, but that’s about it.


  3. That first hard frost is always quite devastating and very final! At least, it finishes off the last lingering blooms and clearly defines the changeover time for cleaning up the garden for Winter! Far more devastating is a late Spring frost after the dahlias have their new leaves! Good Luck getting through the list and enjoy that Autumn sun!!


  4. I completely agree on the late Spring frost! I’ve had that happen a couple of times and it is quite depressing. You are right about the first hard frost clearly defining the changeover – no more lingering, holding off on clean-up as I look out at predicted warm temperatures. Winter is definitely coming!


  5. Thanks for stopping by my blog. It’s a delight to find yours in return 🙂 I’m glad your frost held off as long as it did. A mid-September hard frost is quite sad. Our hard frost date varies and seems to elude us here in the Willamette Valley sometimes until December. I’ve been cutting back my dahlia’s and other tender plants in preparation. Our weather patterns are changing this next week and rainy, cold weather will be upon us. However..October has been magnificent. Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the photos, and I do wish I could take a page out of the dog “playbook” and learn to relax and enjoy actually sitting in the garden a bit more, but there is always so much to do! Can’t wait to get back out there.


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