The Horribly Late Roof Garden Clean Up That Never Was 2007

I desperately need to clean up my rooftop garden. Desperately. Double desperately. It’s horrible how long I’ve let it got this year really. The warmer Fall temperatures were wonderfully evil and I just went with it pretending that Fall would continue forever. I rewarded myself for cleaning up at the community garden so early this year. I can put it off a little longer, I said. It will be just like last year, I said. There will not be snow until January and by then everyone will be freaking out and talking about the blooming crocus and dandelion flowers and how the end of the world is neigh and it won’t matter that some of the pots weren’t empty or that the strawberries never did get replanted from the big pot into the ground.

And now I am in this dilemma. It has already snowed. The ground is probably frozen. I say probably because I haven’t had the courage to check. I would take a picture and post it here for you to see what I am talking about but that would mean having to look and I can’t bear it. I avoid looking out there entirely preferring to pretend it doesn’t exist. From memory and the occasional tiny peek I do seem to recall an assortment of clay pots that are usually emptied, washed and put away by this time every year prior to this one. I’m pretty sure that tender Echeveria I’ve been over-wintering indoors for years is now dead. The shiso was never harvested. Lifeless bean stalks cling to string and a few remaining lantern-like tomatillos hang from leafless branches.

Today would be the perfect day to get out there and do it already. The sun is shining, the temperatures are above zero, and anything that was recently frozen is probably melted after yesterday’s torrential downpours. I could cut back the plants, remove and wash the terra cotta and be done with it. And I would be totally on it too, I really would, except that I have come down with a terrible cold complete with body aches and a nose that runs like a faucet. So instead I will go back to bed with a pile of hankies and a warm tea, putting those self-preserving powers of denial to work for one more day.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

Subscribe to get weekly updates from Gayla

9 thoughts on “The Horribly Late Roof Garden Clean Up That Never Was 2007

  1. I am facing the same issue. All of my containers are now frozen. So the ones I can carry, I have been bringing inside one by one, leaving it on top of my drying machine, then dumping the soil in a large bin a day later. I have yet to clean all the pots — emptying them seems like such a task at the moment! There is one clay pot too large for me to carry, I’m not sure how to handle that one yet …

  2. Do you empty plastic and metal containers as well? Some of mine have perennials but there are others for annuals that I just have stacked, but still full.

    My more delicate perennials are planted in clay pots which I brought in a few weeks ago.

    I barely did any gardening through the whole latter half of autumn, but I’m already anxious to plan for spring!

  3. Jennifer: I don’t empty large metal or plastic containers. Those stay outside as-is. I do empty small containers of all kinds just to make things easier in the spring.

    KJ: I’ll be doing something like you soon. I did bring quite a lot in 1.5-2 months ago and a bunch of perennials were planted in the ground but I have SO MANY containers it usually takes me a number of sessions before everything is done and I slacked big time!

  4. …maybe someone could just declare 2007 “the year of not-cleaning-roof-and-deck gardens”, and I could feel cool instead of insanely guilty…
    It does make me feel better that there are other folks in the same boat.

  5. Jen: I try to be forthcoming about when I screw up because there is already too much needless guilt in gardening… NO MORE GUILT …and so that people can see that even though I KNOW what I am supposed to be doing doesn’t mean I always do it! In the end I’ve really only lost my Shiso harvest and one succulent. Definitely not the end of the world!!

  6. No Guilt! Gardening is supposed to be fun, not a choir! (There are plenty of those.) I bet the snow covered pots and twigs are pretty, try to look at it that way. ;)

  7. Hi, I hope you feel better! Some years I have neglected the garden completely in the winter, only to uncover a wild jungle of ivy in March. Something I love is looking at websites(like yours) this time of year. I love Penelope Hobhouse’s books for inspiration.I love thinking about what I will do next year differently. One thing I want to do is plant a climbing rose over a tall fence. I would love something in a creamy color to pink. continual or reopeat blooming. any thoughts?
    Take care,

  8. Hi Gayla,
    Yeah, this autumn caught me off guard too. I was so focussed on finishing construction of my lean-to greenhouse, that, by the time the snow flew I hadn’t done any of the usual fall maintenance. My fishpond (fishpuddle) still has no winter cover… This I hope to do tomorrow, before it freezes to the bottom… If you lost a lot of terracotta pots to freezing, just spend the next few months buying more used ones at Goodwill or wherever. When spring comes, you’ll be ready. Nice to know that Fall was “sneaky” for everyone this year.

Comments are closed.