Winter is a-coomen in…

I shouldn't complain. After a brief cool spell in late August that left me gnashing my teeth (were we really going to be cheated of autumn this year, after having had practically no spring and only half a summer?) temperatures rose again and we had a long, warm Indian summer straight through October and into November. There was frost several mornings a week, and temperatures in the twenties some nights—after all, this is Montana—but during the day, we'd see fifties, even sixties.

Given that we had a wringing wet spring that culminated with the wettest June on record, punctuated by frequent hail, this long, warm autumn was especially welcome. I was still picking not only lettuce, broccoli, and of course kale, but even tomatoes right into November.

Of course, it couldn't last. Two weekends ago, on an almost balmy Sunday afternoon, my husband and I washed windows and got the storm windows up. The next day it snowed.

Now the first real cold front is moving in; temperatures are supposed to drop below 20° tonight. So yesterday I brushed the snow off the circle bed in the patio and cut a big basket of herbs.

Herb basket no f.

The summer savory, which isn't supposed to be a perennial up here, has lasted for years, hidden away under the echinacea, so this year I transplanted it to a place where it would get more sun. It has not yet forgiven me, so it yielded up only a few sprigs.

Summer savory flash

I've had a thyme plant in the circle garden for years; it survives, but never flourishes. Last year a friend gave me a new one, which I planted about six inches from the first, and which has taken off. Curious, but in a good way. Perhaps we won't have to buy any thyme this year.

Thyme  flash

My huge and venerable sage plant has been looking increasingly ragged, despite my attempts to snip it back here and there each year, so last fall I finally went at it hammer and tongs (or scissor and clippers.)  Perhaps I overdid it a bit, because it hasn't come back quite as enthusiastically as I'd hoped. Still, there's probably enough to get us through the next few months.

Sage flash 2

I suspect nothing can kill my oregano, which I cut to the ground every autumn, and which surges back every spring, scattering seedlings here and there, attracting hoards of honey bees in late summer, and supplying us with oregano year-round.

Oregano flash

Today I cut the last chard and a couple of small cabbage from one of the alley plots, which will probably freeze solid tonight, dug the last carrots from the barrels on the patio, and cut back a bit of lettuce from the basement plantings.

Nov. vegies 3

Now it can freeze if it wants to.

3 Responses to Winter is a-coomen in…

  1. Winter’s due to hit us later this week too. I need to follow your lead and gather in some herbs to see me through the next few months.
    Good point about the sage – I got through several before I learnt it needs a good ‘haircut’ every year to thrive.

  2. Hi VP–good to see you, internet-wise at least.
    I’m happy to hear that the haircut is actually recommended, and that I probably haven’t killed off my sage plant! Unlike the the oregano, which propagates prolifically, the sage keeps itself to itself, so if this one goes, I’ll have to buy another.
    I’m wondering what winter’s arrival means in your part of the world.
    –Kate

  3. I just discovered your site today and I love it. Thanks for showing those wonderful herb photos. Yes, I noticed that it was last fall when you posted the article. I plan to do better with a garden next year if we do not have another excessive rainy spring. Your pics gave me hope.
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