This weekend we played catch-up. Chris worked hard on his grading, and all three of us worked on the yard, trying to get things cleaned up before the snow flies. Between our illnesses and the lateness of the hawthorns dropping their leaves, we hadn't done any work out there in a while.
Saturday, I started to prepare the roses for winter. I pruned the tallest canes back, wanting to save the plants from ice damage (if that's what winter brings this year), and hoping that such a late pruning won't wreck the plants. Then I hauled out the bags of compost, and discovered they had been frozen solid! Argh. So I hauled them inside, by the back door to thaw, and resigned myself to raking the front yard.
I piled leaves on top of the new daylilly bed, hoping to stop it from heaving the new plants out of the ground when the freeze/thaw cycle starts next year. I filled our yard waste cart with the rest. There are so many little twigs from the spruce tree that it would be very hard to compost that stuff without shredding it first, and I don't have a shredder (yet). I was happy to finish as the dim daylight was failing. My hands and arms ached by bedtime.
Sunday morning, Ross was pacing around the house with way too much energy, so I sent him to the back yard with a rake and put him to work. He managed to make a small leaf pile before we left for church. After church, I changed into work clothes and headed for the back yard, and Chris joined me. He had the great idea to put the shop vac into reverse and turn it into an impromptu leaf blower! It didn't move the leaves that were frosted to the grass, but it did lighten my load considerably.
I opened the thawed bags of compost and spread them on the base of the rosebushes. As I patted the piles down, it seemed as if I was tucking the roses into bed for a winter's sleep. "Night, night, sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite!" Then I spread a layer of pine needles on top of the compost, and a layer of hawthorn leaves on top of that.
The damp cold day was getting dimmer and dimmer, and it felt as if it would snow any second. And once I had the roses covered, I thought, okay, now it can snow. But it didn't. I managed to rake up most of the remaining leaves in the back yard before it got too dark to work. Whew.
A long hot bath went a long way toward easing my aching back before bedtime. Oh, there aren't many experiences in life as grand as a lovely soak in lavender-scented hot water!