How organized is your writing compared to your gardening?

Hail rattled down our cedar roof, pinged off the glass patio table and rolled onto the deck. It’s only mid-October, for crying out loud! I’m not ready to let go of summer yet, never mind fall.

But nevertheless we are taking precautions… those necessary pre-winter preparations that can’t be left too long, just in case. Our RV has been tucked into its cozy spot beside the house, freezeables removed and special antifreeze poured into its traps and drains.

Much (but not all) of the deck furniture has been stacked in the basement and garden hoses drained and put away. I spent time Sunday afternoon cutting back flattened daylilies and planting a few winter pansies. I’m not ready to part with the tubs of gangly annual greenery quite yet, but their time is coming.

It’s too soon to be winterizing everything, but a little advance planning minimizes a mountain load of work later.

That’s true for my writing projects, too. I’m not a plotter by nature, so I never try to get every detail under control before I start writing. But the pantser approach can put me in a riding-off-in-all-directions-at-once situation requiring mind-boggling revisions later. I do just a little preliminary planning so I have a starting point, main characters, a destination, and at least one major conflict in mind. Then, if the characters hijack the story and go tearing off with it, I’m flexible enough to take the detour with them and guide them back on track.

In the case of my garden, if a hard frost hits unexpectedly, I’ll deal with the aftermath on the next sunny weekend. There’ll be the inevitable deadheading and I’ll have to cut back the hostas. A few shrubs will need to be tied up before the snow falls. Snow? Snow??? One mid-October hailstorm and now I’m thinking about snow? This can’t be allowed to continue. Time to go for a walk and enjoy the 12-15 degree (celsius) sunshine that is predicted for all of this week. I might snip a few geranium buds for a vase while I’m out there.

I could ask you if you’re a plotter, planner or pantser, and you can tell me if you want, but today I’d really like to know about your fall gardening. Are you one to dig up bulbs and overwinter them, maybe wrap evergreen shrubs in burlap? Hastily toss fallen leaves over perennials for insulation? Or just stand in the window and admire the falling leaves while the garden fends for itself?

~

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19 thoughts on “How organized is your writing compared to your gardening?

  1. Beautiful pansies! We live by Lake Michigan in Wisconsin and feel the change to colder weather too. When we returned from Illinois several years ago, to be closer to my mother (now in Heaven), at first I tried to garden in the same way. But of course, I found I needed hardier plants. Our geraniums are still blooming. I’ll let the leaves fall on the gardens and let the plants catch the snow in winter. It’s just a quiet little corner of the yard, sheltered from the winds.

    I am a poet–have not tried writing a novel yet. Love discussions about the creative process in general! Thank you.

    Blessings, Ellen

    • There are always gardening challenges, aren’t there? We live in quite a mild area of Canada, but our yard is surrounded by towering evergreens so my challenge is acidic soil and a lot of shade. I enjoyed your poetry and geranium photo last weekend. 🙂

  2. So funny that you should post on this today! I cleaned out my veggie garden on Saturday. It’s getting chilly around here, so I harvested the few remaining peppers and three lonely tomatoes. I then got rid of the plants.

    I’m hoping I have better success next year with my veggies. Two groundhogs and bugs decimated the crop this time around.

    • Pesky groundhogs! I gave up on a veggie garden a couple years ago because we were never around to harvest things as they ripened. I only have a few herbs now, and a cherry tomato plant in a tub on the deck.

  3. Paula Osborne says:

    In Ga it is time for pecans and I was so dissappointed this year as the tree produced smalled nuts then the last ones, I guess it must be because we have had less rain this year, I still have trumpet flowers blooming and camellia bush is full of buds to bloom soon, I have a confederate Rose bush that has lot of buds but no flowers yet. we are still having green and red peppers in the garden and I think my son has planted some kind of pea for cooler weather. I love the cooler fall weather but we have much to many warm days in 80’s here.
    Paula O

    • I don’t know if pecans grow around here, but a number of people do have hazelnut trees. I love roses but don’t have the right growing conditions for them. I have one hardy bush that produces a very few pink blooms most years (but none this year) and this summer was given a miniature Sweetheart rose that now has new growth and another bud (it’s on that patio table above, although after the hail I brought it into the house).

  4. Katt says:

    I love this post. Since I live in Florida, I don’t have to “prepare” like I did while living in the North. But I remember planting pansies, coming outside after a light snow and they were wilted. I felt like that too, wilted—–but when the sun came up….they popped right back up.
    In January we sometimes have to cover our plants. Two years ago the low was 26 degrees and it stayed that way for about a month—- The high was in the 70’s, but I was freezing—–

    • Yes, pansies are very resilient. I had one that popped up in the middle of our gravel driveway and survived an entire season there. I’ve never lived anywhere with constant warm temperatures, but I suppose the highs and lows are a relative thing. I’m too warm if it gets to 80 in the summer!

  5. Carol, as always, a lovely post. This city-gal can only admire your great pictures and think of the days I tried to do it all with pots in our NYC apartment 🙂

    • As a child I was a city gal (Vancouver, Canada) but since being married have been blessed with garden space in most of our homes. I once had a corner of one room filled with houseplants, but have finally admitted that I don’t have a green thumb when it comes to them. Every summer I fill tubs on our back deck with annuals. They only have to survive the season so are a better choice for me, along with hardy shrubs and perennials in the garden beds.

  6. karen evans says:

    Oh, I’m a panster. Most assuredly! And where I live, we hope for at least sweater weather some time during our winter. 🙂

  7. Laura Best says:

    Like my stories, my garden usually needs to fend for itself.

    Truth be told, what work that gets done in the garden is usually done by my husband.

    • My husband and I split a lot of the yard work. I do most of the planting in the spring, he mows and mulches with the lawn tractor all summer and fall, and we both weed and do the pre-winter tidying and prep. It’s a good arrangement.

  8. Sue Harrison says:

    I’m kind of a seat of your pants writer, although I do know my characters very well before I begin a new novel, but I baby my garden to get flowers through the winter. Most years anyway – this year, I’m so behind. I still haven’t caught up on my “summer” weeding. Sometimes life just gets hectic!

    • Sue, I can relate to getting behind. Last year I never did get caught up, and except for tying up a few shrubs, there wasn’t any winterizing done either. That’s prompted us to be a little more proactive this fall–but yes, sometimes there are higher priorities.

  9. joylene says:

    I should have gardened before I left. Now I’m exhausted from the trip and it’s been raining since we arrived home last night. Tomorrow? Hopefully. The lawn is 4″ deep in leaves. And I need to cut back all those lupines.

    You are a gifted photographer, Carol. The pics are beautiful.

    • You’re closer to winter there than we are at the Coast, so I guess there’s more urgency for you to get those tasks done. But surely we *must* be going to get more gardening weather… we’re only one month into autumn! DH uses the lawn tractor periodically to gather up the leaves, so at least that’s one job around here that doesn’t require a lot of energy.

    • P.S. – Welcome home! Hope your Thanksgiving visit with family and the newest member was as pleasant as ours. 🙂

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