Classic Monsters Halloween Party

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It’s almost Halloween! For me, it actually seems like the holiday is already past, as my family gathered last Saturday at the house of my sister, niece and nephew-in-law, for the annual Halloween party.

The theme this year was Classic Monsters and as usual, Debbie, Ashley and Jon absolutely wowed us. This is a big event in my family. It’s so fun to drive up to the house and experience the transformation. I show up early so I can get the grand tour and begin taking photos, before the other guests arrive.

The majority of the party attendees dress up for the occasion. Classic Monsters is a broad category. We had witches and vampires in attendance with some werewolves and several who put clever spins on the theme.

Come inside, if you dare, and have a look around. This post is photo heavy. And for the first time, I’ve included a four minute video at the end, if you want a room by room tour and a peek at the guests.

Classic Monsters Title Meme

Classic Monsters in the Yard

The Halloween decor, at the party house, starts outdoors and continues throughout the house. It is always a thrill to turn the corner onto the street and get a hint of what’s inside the house, by seeing what’s outside. Debbie, Ashley and Jon make most of the decorations, using basic materials, creativity and a lot of hard work. They are masters at repurposing objects and decorations from previous years into new creations for the current party.

A cemetery, complete with a fence and tombstones, filled the front lawn. I enjoyed reading the clever inscriptions on the stones. Actors who portrayed classic monsters, such as Lon Chaney and Vincent Price, lay buried in this graveyard! And beware the creatures lurking among the graves.

Classic Monsters Cemetery
Debbie, Ashley and Jon created each of these tombstones.


Classic Monsters Werewolf
Watch out for the Beast!

“Werewolves howl, Phantoms prowl. Halloween’s upon us now.”  Richelle E Goodrich

Classic Monsters Throughout the House

Inside the house, the transformation is magical. I don’t mean a few decorations tucked here and there. I’m talking about a complete transformation. These ultimate party planners cover walls and ceilings and take decorating to an extreme level, to create authenticity. Take a look!

Dr. Frankenstein’s Lab

Classic Monsters Frankenstein
Dr. Frankenstein’s Lab, complete with one of the most well known classic monsters. This figure began its existence as a Santa Claus!
Classic Monsters Frankenstein's Lab
Close up of Dr. Frankenstein’s creation. Pick up the classic book HERE.

Count Dracula’s Castle

The living room and dining room became part of Dracula’s Castle.

Dracula's Parlor
Dracula’s Lair. Grab this classic tale HERE.
Classic Monsters Halloween Party Dining Room
The castle dining room. By the time guests arrived, a smorgasbord filled that table.

“Being normal is vastly overrated.”  Aggie Cromwell

The Witches’ Wood

Jon claimed this spot, as the “potion” maker. He is an excellent bartender and keeps guests supplied with their potions of choice.

Witches' Lair
This is an adult party, with the exception of a few younger nieces and nephews. Jon serves up creative drinks from this creepy room.

The Spider’s Web and Creature from the Black Lagoon

The downstairs hallway was filled with spider webs. And the creature’s lagoon wasn’t recognizable as the guest bathroom.

Spider Spider
Imagine getting tangled in this spider’s web!
Classic Monsters Creature from the Black Lagoon
Classic Monsters – Creature from the Black Lagoon. This room was stunning.

“It’s as much fun to scare, as to be scared.”  Vincent Price

Mummy’s Chamber

Classic Monsters Mummy
Classic Monsters – Mummy
Anubis at the Halloween Party
Anubis in the Mummy’s Chamber

Classic Monsters Upstairs

The theme for the party continues up the stairs.

The Invisible Man on the Stairs

Classic Monsters Invisible Man
Classic Monsters – Invisible Man

The Phantom of the Opera

Being a fan of this musical, I loved this surprise at the top of the stairs! The soundtrack from the musical played on a loop, which was such a nice touch.

Phantom of the Opera
Classic Monsters – Phantom of the Opera

“I love Halloween, and I love that feeling: the cold air, the spooky dangers lurking around the corner.”  Evan Peters

The Costumes

Here are some of the attendees, in costume. Unfortunately, I did not get photos of everyone. My sisters and brother and I all dressed up as vampires. Each year, at the Halloween party, we take a sibling photo. It was fun to get a sibling vampires shot!

Classic Monsters Halloween Party Guests
Miller Family, Mom and her girls, Sibling photo with fangs, Sibling photo without fangs.
Classic Monsters Halloween Party Guests 3
Bryan & Christel, Cindy & Greg, Nate (Cookie Monster), Elissa & Adriel, Nate & Adriel
Classic Monsters Halloween Party Guests 2
Scott & Nicole (monster under the bed), Barnes Family, Cody & Ciera, Christina & Brian

“Halloween is not only about putting on a costume, but it’s about finding the imagination and costume within ourselves.”  Elvis Duran

Our Phenomenal Party Hosts

I am amazed, every year, at the work that goes into the annual party. These are people with jobs and responsibilities and busy lives. And they possess an extraordinary level of creativity and resourcefulness.

Our hosts adhered to the classic monsters theme in their costumes. They appeared as a vampire, wood witch, werewolf, Dr. Jekyl and Dorian Gray. See Ethan’s transformation into Mr. Hyde in the next photo!

Halloween Party Hosts
Debbie, Ashley, Kaleb, Ethan & Jon, our amazing party hosts.
Mr. Hyde
Ethan changed back and forth from Dr. Jekyl to Mr. Hyde. Such a clever costume…and teenager.

Video Tour of the House

Enjoy this 4 minute video tour of the house.

Classic Monsters Halloween Party

Another Halloween party here…and gone. I’m so appreciative of my family. Their party creating skills are off the charts, truly. They do it because they enjoy the creative challenge and they enjoy hosting family and friends.

I marvel at their ingenuity and their labor of love. For that  is what it is. Thank you Debbie, Ashley and Jon.

My vampire costume was steam punk inspired. I enjoyed a slightly different look that cost me almost nothing to pull together. I owned the leggings and jewelry already. The knee high boots, shirt, vest and long jacket all were thrift store finds and cost me less than $20, total. Daughter Elissa loaned me the hat and great nephew Kaleb supplied the walking stick. I purchased inexpensive teeth at Spirit Halloween Store.

Most of us create our costumes “on the cheap”, with clothes and props we have on hand and thrift store purchases. The idea is to be creative and have fun.

Mission accomplished.

“Every day is Halloween isn’t it? For some of us…”  Tim Burton

Classic Monsters Vampire
Steam punk inspired vampire.


Check out last year’s Halloween Party:

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part I

The Barnes Carnevil Circus Part II – Costumes

Amazon Finds for Scary Fun:


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Epic Continent Book Review

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

Thank you to Smith Publicity for sending me the book Epic Continent for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

Although I frequently receive offers of books to read, for review purposes, I rarely accept. Honestly, I just don’t have the time to read that I once had, as I build a business around my blogs.

Occasionally, however, a book catches my attention and my keen interest. Such is the case with Epic Continent, by Nicholas Jubber.

These words intrigued me:

What can the classics tell us about today’s turbulent Europe? Award winning travel writer Nicholas Jubber presents a fascinating modern day travelogue through the epic poems of Europe.

Epic Continent documents Nicholas’ journey across Europe, from Greece to Iceland, tracing the enduring poems of old to discover the connection to Europe’s roots. That beautiful combination of travel, discovery and literature drew me in.

This is my review of Epic Continent.

Epic Continent Book Review Title Meme

Travel Writer Nicholas Jubber

Nicholas Jubber is a writer and traveler, with a passion for history. By his own admission, he is  fascinated by storytelling, nomadism, exploration and the connections…or misconnections…between past and present. He is a graduate of Oxford University and the author of four books. (See his books at the end of this post.)

Epic Continent presented itself as an idea during a family road trip across Europe. Jubber’s three year old son pointed out a mural of the hero Siegfried slaying the dragon, from the medieval tale Nibelungenlied.

Jubber kept thinking about that epic story, and others like it, and the influence they had on future tales and authors such as JRR Tolkien. He shares that what drew him into his own epic journey was the symmetry of the motifs and plot strands in those stories, that “stitched the continent together in a patchwork quilt of storytelling”.

A few months after his family trip, Nicholas headed out again on a solo trip. He selected six epic poems, all composed during or after times of great change in Europe. He desired to follow the stories, and their characters, across the continent.

Nicholas Jubber
Nicholas Jubber, author of Epic Continent.

Epic Means “To Say”

Nicholas was especially drawn to stories with an oral background.

Epic derives from the Greek word epein, which means “to say”. To be truly epic, says Jubber, a story must be sayable. Words spoken aloud have great power. The ancient Greeks used the word kelethmos, which translates to “enchantment”. I immediately connected with this, as enchantment is my word for the year.

The six chosen tales weave that powerful and far-reaching enchantment. They sunk deep roots in Europe, becoming part of the culture of the continent while at the same time, helping to form it.

Nicholas set out on his journey, seeking answers to three questions:

  1.  What did the stories do to create Europe?
  2. Are they still worth reading?
  3.  And can they help us to understand Europe today?

Epic Continent

These are the epic stories and the regions that Jubber journeyed through:

Odyssey – Greece and Turkey – One of two ancient Greek poems by Homer, about the hero Odysseus and his journey home after the fall of Troy.

Kosovo Cycle – The Balkans – Serb poetry about the events before the Battle of Kosovo in 1389.

Song of Roland – Western Europe – Poem based on the Battle of Roncevaux Pass in 788, during the reign of Charlemagne.

Nibelungenlied – Central Europe – This German poem tells the story of dragon slayer Siegfried at the court of the Burgundians, and the revenge of his wife, Kriemheld.

Beowulf – Britain & Scandinavia – Heroic poem about Beowulf, who comes to the aid of the king of the Danes, who is under attack from the monster Grendel.

Njal’s Saga – Iceland – Thirteen century saga that tells of the events between two friends, Njal and Gunnar, from 960 to 1020.

The book is divided into sections that match the epic stories and regions. A summary of each story is written at the beginning of the corresponding chapter. Jubber traveled through 18 countries as he followed these tales, tracing the plotlines of the stories.

Epic Continent Map
Map of Nicholas’ journey.

My Thoughts About Epic Continent

Nicholas Jubber writes in such an engaging way. He honestly shares his journey and the impact the tales have on him and on the people in each region. For these aren’t outdated stories. We discover, with Jubber, that the stories are alive throughout Europe, celebrated and expanded upon.

From a refugee camp in Chios to a puppeteer in Sicily to medieval churches in marshy East Anglia, Jubber trekked across Europe, ending his long quest in Iceland. As he explored the influence the stories had on European culture, he talked to people, asked questions, listened, walked everywhere, and slept where he could find a spot to claim for the night. He experienced Europe, country by country, as viewed through the lens of these epic poems.

Savor Epic Continent

The book created in me the desire to revisit those ancient stories. And it cultivated appreciation for the influence they’ve had on other authors, such as JRR Tolkien and Michael Crichton, and the countless retelling of the tales in other books and movies.

Epic Continent is a book to savor with a cup of hot tea. It is one to enjoy, while pondering the continuing enchantment of ancient tales. Nicholas is himself a gifted bard, a wandering storyteller, weaving his own magical tale with the epics as a backdrop. And it is a tale worth reading.

Did Nicholas get answers to his questions? He did. I’ll let you discover them in the book.

Epic Continent with Tea

Pick up your copy of Epic Continent below, along with Jubber’s other books:


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Movie Review: Joker

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Two things drew me to the new movie release, Joker. I love origin stories that reveal how a well known character evolved. Joker is such a movie, featuring one of the most iconic villains in the DC Universe. And, I appreciate what actor Joaquin Phoenix brings to any role he plays. I’ve heard raves for his performance in Joker and I looked forward to seeing it.

My sister Linda and I caught a Sunday afternoon matinee. After a very full weekend, a couple of hours at the theater was a welcome reprieve.

Movie Review: Joker contains mild spoilers. If you don’t want to know anything about this film, stop reading now!

Movie Review Joker Title Meme

Movie Review: Joker – Cast

This thriller/crime drama stars Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy and Brett Cullen. Todd Phillips co-wrote and directed Joker. The film carries an R rating for violence, intense scenes and language, and has a run time of 2 hours and 2 minutes.

Put on a Happy Face

Arthur Fleck (Phoenix) lives simply with his mother (Conroy) in a run down apartment building in Gotham City. He barely makes a living as a clown, performing in one time gigs at hospitals and retail shops. Arthur aspires to do stand up comedy and scribbles jokes and comedic ideas in a well worn notebook that he carries with him. He truly believes his purpose in life is to make people laugh and to bring joy to the world.

However, life is challenging for Arthur. He suffers from a condition called pathological laughter that causes him to cackle when he is nervous or uncomfortable. His inappropriate laughter invites ridicule from bullies and disapproval from those who don’t understand him. Unfortunately for Arthur, people laugh at him, not with him, and taunts follow.

Movie Review Joker Clown
It’s tough being a clown in Gotham City.
Arthur the Stand Up Comedian
It’s even tougher to do stand up comedy!

Send in the Clowns

To combat his loneliness and his difficulties interacting with people, Arthur creates alternate realities in his imagination. His idol, late night talk show host and comedian Murray Franklin (De Niro) embraces Arthur as a son and encourages him…in Arthur’s imagination. And likewise, neighbor Sophie (Beetz), who lives down the hall and smiled at him once, becomes his pretend girlfriend.

He writes in his notebook:

“The worst part of having a mental illness is people expect you to behave as if you don’t.”

When they aren’t laughing at his peculiarities, people don’t notice him at all. Arthur feels invisible and not real.

The troubled man’s lifepath shifts when he decides enough is enough, on the city subway. Three wealthy young men torment Arthur when he laughs uncontrollably, and they begin to beat him. Dressed in his clown costume and armed with a gun, he fights back for the first time, shooting the men to stop the attack. That act of violence divides Arthur, changes him, from a man with hopes and dreams to a man with a much darker purpose.

In Gotham City division grows as well. The killer clown on the subway becomes a hero to some. Clowns show up all over the city, wreaking havoc. The lower class rises against the upper class, exemplified by billionaire Thomas Wayne (Cullen) who is running for mayor of the city. When Arthur discovers a connection between him and Wayne it only further loosens the comedian’s fragile grip on what’s real.

Movie Review Joker Arthur
Arthur Fleck
Robert De Niro is Murray Franklin
Robert De Niro as Murray Franklin.

The Transformation from Clown to Joker

Feeling betrayed by the people closest to him, in reality or in his imagination, Arthur begins a transformation. The killing on the subway train emboldens him. He uses violence as a way to get back at those who have hurt him.

In a strange way, Arthur’s awkwardness around people lessens as he loses the last shreds of reason and decency. That peculiar freedom lends grace to his thin body and adds a confidence he’s never had before.

The Joker is fully born on a night that should have marked the realization of a dream. The man he once idolized unintentionally christens him with a new name and a new identity, and launches Arthur into a new career. He is a struggling comedian no more. He is Joker, the Clown Prince of Gotham.

Movie Review Joker is born
Joker is born. His dance down the steps is one of the most riveting scenes in the film.

My Thoughts on Joker

This is a phenomenal origin film. Todd Phillips wanted a fresh story about Batman’s arch nemesis and he certainly created one. Phillips and co-writer Scott Silver used elements of Joker lore to produce an original story that could stand on its own. I love how familiar aspects of this villain, such as his laughter, provide launching points for new discoveries in the film.

Joaquin Phoenix is mesmerizing. He lost 52 pounds for this role. According to him, it gave his body surprising fluidity, allowing him to move in ways that opened creative possibilities during the story development. Phoenix portrays Arthur in such a way that one feels compassion for him. He is painful to watch, at times, and yet he is captivating in his flawed humanity. I rooted for him…right up until his soul fractured and he embraced violence as a way of life. Then I hurt for him.

And that’s the beauty of this film. It’s more than the transformation of a broken man into a villain. Arthur’s pain shaped him in ways that he barely perceived. His realization that he had never been happy a moment in his life sharply alienated him from his desire to make people laugh and to bring them joy.

Arthur’s life felt devoid of joy. What he sought for others was in reality what his own soul longed for. And yet…society and those he thought cared for him only pushed him farther along the path to villainy. Of course, he could have chosen differently. However the point of the movie is that he was a victim and he allowed that role to define him. There is so much truth in Joker’s story and it broke my heart, in unexpected ways.

After Movie Review: Joker Check Out the Film

If you enjoy Joaquin Phoenix, origin stories or the DC/Batman Universe…check out this complex film. It’s beautiful, in a gritty, eye opening sort of way. And it’s devastating, in a heart wrenching, lip chewing sort of way. Joker offers a peek into the life of a man who twisted himself into a new creation and lost himself along the way. Joker might make you weep, for him and for all those who are lost.

Joaquin Phoenix as Joker.
Movie Review: Joker

Trailer for Joker

Check out these recent movie reviews:

Downton Abbey




And find your Joker items here, including the haunting movie soundtrack:


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national lowercase day

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This fun “holiday”, established in 2011, plays with language in a way that makes texters happy. Today, capital letters are ignored in favor of using lowercase letters.

I’m actually one who observes traditional grammar and punctuation when I text. I did briefly consider typing this post all in lowercase, to celebrate national lowercase day. However, that thought truly was brief. As you can see, I opted for the usual.

To appreciate the day, I offer instead rules to help stop overcapitalizing. Capital letters are appropriate for specific uses, such as beginning a sentence, proper names and titles. Many writers tend to overuse them though. The following tips will help.

national lowercase day title meme

E. E. Cummings

Before posting rules to prevent overusing capital letters, I must mention poet E. E. Cummings. This man appreciated lowercase letters!

E. E. Cummings often wrote his poems all in lowercase and frequently omitted punctuation as well.

Edward Estlin Cummings was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1894. He attended high school there, where he studied Latin and Greek. He later graduated with a BA and MA from Harvard. Cummings is regarded as one of the most innovative and creative poets of his time. He experimented with poetic form and language, ultimately creating his own distinctive writing style.

Cummings used lowercase letters in his poems, along with invented words and words used in nontraditional ways. He also created visually intriguing patterns across the page with his words. By his death in 1962, E. E. Cummings was recognized as a great lyrical poet who made experimental poetry attractive to readers.

national lowercase day ee cummings
Innovative poet, E. E. Cummings would appreciate national lowercase day!
national lowercase day ee cummings poem
in honor of national lowercase day, “love is a place”, by e.e. cummings

Words to Stop Capitalizing

Using capital letters and lowercase letters correctly matters, unless, like E. E. Cummings, your writing style is considered innovative. For the rest of us, proper usage makes us look smarter and more professional and polished. Plus, the message we hope to convey comes through, without the distraction caused by misuse of capital and lowercase letters.

Here are easy to learn rules, about when to use lowercase and when to use capital letters.

national lowercase day abc


Directions such as east and west are not capitalized, unless they are used in an address. Directional words in addresses are typically abbreviated anyway.

Correct: 1234 W. Happy Street or 5678 West Highway 32

Incorrect: 1234 w. Happy Street or 5678 west Highway 32

Correct: I’m driving east on Main Street.

Incorrect: I’m driving East on Main Street.


In the same way, seasons are written in lowercase as well, unless they are part of a title or event.

Correct: I love spring!

Incorrect: I love Spring!

Correct: I’m attending the Downtown Fall Festival Saturday.

Incorrect: I’m attending the Downtown fall Festival Saturday.

national lowercase day book of letters

Special Occasions

Words for events such as birthday, anniversary and party are not capitalized, unless they are included with someone’s name as a special occasion.

Correct: I hope you have a fun anniversary!

Incorrect: I hope you have a fun Anniversary!

Correct: You are invited to Molly’s 13th Birthday Party.

Incorrect: You are invited to Molly’s 13th birthday party.

Correct: Happy Birthday, George!

Incorrect: Happy birthday, George!

Correct: Have a happy birthday, George.

Incorrect: Have a Happy Birthday, George.

Job Titles and Careers

Job titles use lowercase, unless they come before your name.

Correct: I’m a professor at the university.

Incorrect: I’m a Professor at the university.

Correct: I’m Professor Anderson.

Incorrect: I’m professor Anderson.

Careers don’t require capital letters, typically, unless used in a title.

Correct: Bart is a writer.

Incorrect: Bart is a Writer.

Correct: Bart is attending the SW Missouri Writer’s Conference.

Incorrect: Bart is attending the SW Missouri writer’s conference.

national lowercase day alphabet

Important Sounding Words

Sometimes, to show the importance of a word, we capitalize when we should use lowercase.

Correct: I majored in business in college.

Incorrect: I Majored in Business in college.

Correct: Karen is a big supporter of pet rescue agencies.

Incorrect: Karen is a big Supporter of Pet Rescue Agencies.

Correct: Karen is a supporter of the Pet Rescue Agency of Dallas.

Incorrect: Karen is a Supporter of the pet rescue agency of Dallas.

Happy national lowercase day

Writing certainly has standardized rules. Those rules about grammar, punctuation and upper and lowercase letters help us to make sense of the words we write and read.

However, it is also true that every writer has his or her own unique style. I hope these tips help in your every day messages and social media posts, as you develop your own personal writing style.

Now, can we discuss punctuation and run on sentences?

national lowercase day poem
national lowercase day poem by e.e. cummings

Check out this website, to see how well you do using capital and lowercase letters.

And try this fun five sentence writing challenge!

E. E. Cummings for national lowercase day:


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Fall Checklist for the Garden

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As temperatures dip, the cooler weather serves as a reminder that now is the time to tidy up the garden and prep for winter. Fall, with its warm days and chilly nights, provides the perfect opportunities to enjoy puttering in the garden and dreaming of next spring.

Use this handy fall checklist for the garden, to make sure your backyard paradise fares well over the winter. The reward is a beautiful outdoor space when spring arrives.

Fall Checklist for the Garden title meme

Fall Checklist for the Garden

[ ] Plant bulbs, perennials, shrubs and trees for spring color.

Fall is an excellent time to plant for spring blooms. Check out this post for a list of plants that do well with a fall planting.

[ ] Divide perennials such as hostas, irises, day lilies, sedum, coneflowers, shasta daisies and canna lilies.

Most perennials can be divided every two to three years or whenever they show signs of overcrowding. Dig up plant and using a sharp shovel, divide the root ball into two or more sections. Replant extra perennials in a new location and water well. Or, better yet, share your perennials with others. A perennial exchange is a great way to acquire new plants for free!

Fall Checklist Pumpkins
Add fall color with mums and pumpkins.

[ ] Add fall color in the garden and on the deck or front porch.

For pops of earthy color, add mums, pumpkins and gourds. Create an eye catching entry with groupings of fall flowers and pumpkins on the front porch or near the front door. This is a great way to extend color well into the season, even as flowers in the garden fade away.

[ ] Note expected first frost date and prepare to bring containers indoors.

Use this frost map to see when the first hard frost is expected in your area. Those amazing container gardens you created last spring? Make space indoors for any that will winter inside. Keep the flowers in a sunny location, trim back spent blooms and leaves, and water as needed and you’ll have containers ready to go back outdoors next spring.

Fall Checklist Rake Leaves
Those fallen leaves can provide mulch for the garden.

[ ] Rake leaves.

If you have an abundance of trees then raking leaves is a necessary garden task in the fall. Beyond creating mounds of leaves for the kids to jump into, leaves can provide mulch for the garden. Mow over the raked up leaves, with a bag attached to the mower, or use a grinder to create mulch. The leaf mulch returns vital nutrients to the soil.

[ ] Start a compost.

Use those leaves, grass clippings and garden trimmings to create a compost. Food scraps, newspapers and yard and garden waste combine, creating the perfect environment for earthworms and bacteria, which turns the waste into valuable compost for next year’s garden. Make your own bin or purchase one and fill it up. Regularly turn the contents to maintain the proper mixture and distribute heat.

Fall Checklist Create New Beds
On the fall checklist for the garden…creating new beds.

[ ] Prepare new beds for spring planting.

Now is the time to plan and lay out new beds for next spring. Prep the ground by clearing any weeds or grass in the area and spade to a depth of at least a foot. Smooth dirt and let the new bed rest over the winter. It’s much easier to plant next spring when the ground is prepped in advance.

[ ] Tidy up the garden.

This task on the fall checklist for the garden is the biggie. As plants die down, trim perennials and herbs to the ground. Pull weeds. Harvest and store flower seeds. Remove dead branches from bushes, shrubs and trees. Do not prune rose bushes or butterfly bushes until next spring however. And leave ornamental grasses until spring as well. The grasses will turn brown and yet they are still pretty to look at over the winter and provide seeds and shelter for birds. After tidying the garden, lay down a good layer of mulch.

Fall Checklist Clean Tools
This is the time to clean tools.

[ ] Clean and store garden tools.

Use soapy water and a wire brush to clean dirt from garden tools. Apply a lightweight vegetable oil to metal to prevent rusting. Sharpen blades on shovels, trowels and hoes. Store tools out of the weather.

[ ] Clean and store containers.

Check and clean containers that are not going indoors for the winter. Remove dead plants and inspect for cracks or breaks in the containers. Also check garden décor and statues for needed repairs.  I leave most of my statures and décor in the garden over the winter, for interest. However, it is a good time to toss anything that has succumbed to time and weather. I have vintage wooden chairs that my grandfather made that are being repurposed into new works of art. And another old wooden chair that I bought several years ago at a flea market is destined for the trash bin.

Using a Fall Checklist for the Garden Creates an Easier Checklist for Spring

This fall checklist for the garden is for me, as much as anyone! I have a great deal of prep work to do in my garden, after above average rainfall this summer. Plus, focusing on the blogs this year and a trip to Scotland in July means my garden is more wild than usual this fall.

I look forward, in the upcoming weeks, to the tidying up process. The garden is resilient, adaptive and ever changing. In spite of its wild and unkept appearance…now…a little care this fall will return it to its splendor next spring. Time in the garden is time well spent. The returns are a hundredfold, for me and for my backyard paradise.

Create a Personal Manifesto

Check out these gardening favorites from Amazon:


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Plant in Fall for Spring Color


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Ahhh….fall is here. Even though temperatures in the Midwest have remained unusually high, it’s time for gardening tasks that mark the end of the growing season.

Prepare a cup of herbal tea and read through these planting tips. This is the perfect time of year to plan for next year. Plant in fall, for spring color!

Plant in Fall title meme

Why Plant in Fall?

There are several reasons for prepping now for a colorful spring:

  •  Fall has more mild days for working in the garden, compared to spring when temperatures can still fluctuate wildly from day to day.
  •  Rainfall is typically plentiful enough that you don’t need to water as often.
  •  The soil is still warm, which encourages roots to grow and become established.
  •  Weeds are dying down, meaning there is less competition for nutrients in the soil.
  •  There are fewer pests to cause damage to bulbs and plants and less likelihood of disease.
  •  Fertilizer isn’t needed. It encourages new growth, which isn’t what we want at this time of year.

Plant about six weeks before the first hard frost. In the Midwest, that’s toward the end of November, making October perfect for planting. Check out your zone on this map.

Plant in Fall Daffodils
Daffodils are one of the first flowers to appear in spring.

Bulbs to Plant in Fall

Plant these hardy bulbs now, for gorgeous color in early spring.  Generally, bulbs are placed in the ground at a depth two to three times the diameter of the bulb. For example, plant most tulip bulbs at a depth of six to eight inches. Place in the ground with the pointy end, or nose, up. Cover with dirt and add a couple of inches of mulch.

  •  tulips
  •  daffodils
  •  snowdrops
  •  crocus
  •  hyacinths
  •  lilies
Plant in Fall Hostas
Hostas come in a variety of colors and patterns.

Perennials to Plant in Fall

Planting perennials in the fall creates bigger and healthier plants in the spring. Adding early blooming perennials to areas with bulbs doubles the color in the garden next spring. As bulb flowers die back, the perennials take their place.

Plant before a hard frost. Don’t fertilize. And add a couple of inches of mulch to blanket the new plants. Water only if there is less than an inch of rainfall per week.

  •  hostas
  •  salvia
  •  peonies
  •  coreopsis
  •  dianthus
  •  garden phlox
  •  sedum
  •  irises
Plant in Fall Azaleas
Azaleas are available in a variety of colors. Plant on the east or north side of the property. They don’t tolerate full sun.

Shrubs and Trees to Plant in Fall

Autumn is the perfect time to plant shrubs and trees. The warm days and cooler nights allow them to spread their roots and settle in before becoming dormant during the winter. And trees and shrubs planted in fall handle heat and drought better the following year.

Make sure you know how large the shrub or tree will get when full grown and leave ample room when planting. Dig a hole twice as wide as the plant’s container and deep enough that the root ball sits slightly above ground level. Add shrub or tree. Fill the hole half way with soil, then water well. Fill in with the remaining soil. Water again. Mulch with two to three inches of a bark based mulch, leaving a couple of inches of space around the trunk. Water two to three times a week, then taper off as the weather and soil cool down.


  •  knockout roses
  •  camellia sasanqua
  •  fothergilla
  •  oakleaf hydrangea
  • rhododendron
  •  spirea
  •  azaleas


  •  Japanese maple
  •  gingko
  •  maple
  •  alder
  •  hawthorn
  •  ash
  •  honey locust
  •  crabapple
  •  spruce
  •  pine
  •  sycamore
  •  elm

Enjoying the Rewards of Fall Gardening

The effort put forth in the garden, during fall, reaps big rewards next spring. Plan for next year and then grab a shovel! Create new beds, add a fresh focal point, divide perennials and tuck that tree into the ground.

Watch next week for the Fall Gardening Checklist. And happy gardening!

Ornamental Grasses
The ornamental grasses are beautiful this time of year.

Mosquitos still a problem in your area? Check out this DIY Mosquito Repellent.

Gardening Picks from Amazon


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