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Choosing my favorite plants

PIcking the plants that will survive inside for the winter is a daunting task.  (Provided photo — Diane Chase)

It is that time of year when I have to choose which plants live or die. It’s a yearly decision that I don’t take lightly.

I have mostly potted or hanging plants because my dog, voles, mice, chipmunks, a woodchuck and rabbit decided years ago that I shouldn’t grow annuals directly into the ground. There is enough trouble going around without a yard full of mowed-down plants. For some reason, the vermin (including my dog) are too lazy to climb onto the porch or scale the raised beds. I plant a few decoys around my yard, and they seem satisfied with what they get. We seem to have an agreement. (Please don’t burst my bubble.) 

With the first frost, my garage looks like a nursery. I, meaning my family, bring in every plant possible. My family has to maneuver around the pots. They help me bring them outside during the day and bring them inside at night. The plants might get chilly. I provide blankets for them and gently trim away any seed pods.

In the spring when I’m growing seeds or buying plants, I never think ahead to the fall. I can’t. The plants are too beautiful, and I’ve seen too much snow, so I want one (or five) of everything offered. I want to be surrounded by color. I want my patio to be an English garden. 

My problem is always the same each autumn. I have to decide on the plants I like the best. Some are too leggy and won’t survive the weak sun from my windows. Other plants just aren’t made for extreme temperatures. On a positive note, some plants become dormant and will survive in my basement with a few drops of water. Herbs can be dried, and I take clippings with an attempt to root the survivors in vases around the house. 

By mid-winter, the plants have usually decided themselves if they are able to survive my house conditions. I thin out my offerings and move empty pots to the basement, one by one. 

For now, and until my family’s patience runs out, the floor space near any natural light space remains taken up by plants. I want to hang on just a bit longer to this last remnant of summer.

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