The Violet Fern

A Colorful Tale of a Garden in the Making

October Observations: Late for My Date with Frost


We had our first killing frost just this week on the 29th. Last year I recorded our first frost October 13th. We were blessed this year with a warm, glowing October right to the end! The leaves on the Pin Oak have just turned as seen in my November header. I am admiring all the color still painting the garden (especially now golden Amsonia), but I am behind in my preparations and the frost took me completely by surprise – a few houseplants may not recover. It is time to empty the bird baths and put out my heated bath, bring in the bird houses that aren’t frost proof, bring out the suet feeders, and wrap the young trees and shrubs that the rabbits like to eat over winter.


Ceramic bird bath in the Woodland Edge will be swapped for a heated bath.

Surprise or not, I love a hard frost on a beautiful sunlit morning which were exactly the conditions this past Tuesday. Normally I would be out in the garden capturing the glory but I was on my way to Watertown, the largest “city” nearby, to pick up paper work for the Master Gardening class our cooperative extension is offering this winter. So, it was okay to miss my date with frost and my drive was absolutely beautiful through frosty fields of rural farmland. I took it as a sign of better and brighter things to come in my world of gardening. I look so forward to the class and the opportunities!

Today the gales of November have arrived right on cue and can be seen reverberating from the Great Lakes all through the mighty St. Lawrence River (click here for river view cams). Winds are predicted up to 40 mph with gusts up to 60 mph(!) and have already ripped off the plexi glass we had screwed down to our screen porch door. Ghosts are flying! The air is warm now but winter is arriving and I look to the winter garden scene I most rely upon until spring – the Cardinal Dogwood and Blue Spruce pairing. This year I am adding a copper rain chain and can’t wait to install it, but today is not the day. It should compliment the copper topped bird feeder close by – glowing warmth that will be welcome come January and February.


Cardinal Dogwood’s red stems against Blue Spruce. A few gold leaves hang on.

I hope to be in the Potager this weekend for a good clean up and topping (of compost), if the weather cooperates. Garlic has to be planted and once again, I missed ordering some “new blood” so to speak – I should order mid summer! But I have some big bulbs from this year’s harvest to rely upon. Crossing my fingers and holding on.


Author: Kathy Sturr

Cultivating art, growing soul, and creating plant-based food in the beautiful 1000 Islands, New York and Cedar Key, Old Florida.

6 thoughts on “October Observations: Late for My Date with Frost

  1. brrrr…60 mph wind gusts! is here old man winter! Look forward to hearing about your Master Gardening Classes in future blogs:-) I admire your dedication.
    Red dogwood and blue spruce-amazing together! great photos! I agree it was a sign of better and brighter things to come in your world of gardening,and we are the lucky ones because we get to see it here at Violet Fern:-)

    • Aw thank you Robbie! I just hooked up my heated bird bath. The temperatures have dropped and it’s cooler (dare I say cold?) but sunny. I am going to complete my paperwork for the Master Gardener class today. I can’t wait to get started but classes do not begin until January. I’ll be ready to delve into gardening by then I’m sure!

  2. Same weather here and I was home to capture it. How wonderful you have a Master gardening class to attend. Ours in Syracuse is at night during winter. Not a good fit as the area of the city it is in is not safe and too dark, and I am not feeling safe walking or driving alone to the class. I have asked for weekends and day classes but to no avail. I am sure you will have a lot of fun!

    • I can’t wait to see your beautiful captures of the frost Donna! I have been waiting for the Master Gardener class as they do not offer it every year here and supposedly this is the first time they have (dared to?) offered the class in winter. I have 4 wheel drive on my old Toyota so I should make it to class! I hear what you are saying about Syracuse. Many (many) years ago I worked a part time job at night for the Syracuse New Times and I was downright afraid to leave and walk to my car at night!

  3. The imagery of your Violet Fern’s blogging is just as luminous as all the images in your garden during the seasons. I am sorry that it took me this long to peruse this gem! Thank you for taking the time Kathy to treat us with these wonderful works of art, both in the garden and by your hand! I am excited to keep an eye on all the lessons that I can learn. Enjoy the master gardener class! Why do I feel you will be teaching them a thing or two?!

    • How nice it is to meet you here Sharlene! Would be nicer to meet in person one day! I am really looking forward to the Master Gardener class. I am also looking forward to an afternoon cleaning up the Potager and hopefully, planting garlic! I am also looking forward to some painting time over the winter.

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