Lots of signs now that fall is arriving. Some mornings when Lucy and I first go out, it's cool, if not downright chilly. Lucy is full of energy - much more than in the summer, when she lies around all day conserving energy. And the goldfinches are back at the coneflowers. We have a big stand of them in front of the greenhouse. Every year, in the fall, a pair of goldfinches come daily and feed on the coneflower seeds. They must have told their friends and neighbors, because this year, we have at least a half dozen. They feed happily and also like to visit the shallow birdbath near the pergola.
Keep the birds in mind when you clean up the garden this fall. I leave seedheads stand if I think the birds will enjoy them. I know that last winter, they were happy for every seed they got. Frost isn't too far away. If you have annual herbs you want to harvest, do it soon before frost hits. Afterwards, if you want to cut back the foliage on herbaceous perennials, like mints, tarragon and oregano, go ahead. Some people let them go and cut them back in the spring. That's fine, too. Usually, I cut back in the fall. Unless it's been a harrowing year, then I wait till spring.
One group you don't want to cut back in fall is woody-stemmed perennials like sage, lavender, thyme and rosemary (actually a tender perennial). Wait till spring to trim these as the foliage provides some protection for the crown of the plant over winter.
The butterfly population was better this year than last. But we did not have any monarch caterpillars on any variety of our garden milkweeds. I don't think there were any on the wild milkweed either, simply because I only saw a handful of monarchs this year.
At least our toad population increased. The big greenhouse toad is back and I've also seen a smaller one outside. He's been hanging around greenhouse #2. Maybe he'll move inside for the winter.