Saturday, September 9, 2017

Top Ten Fall Gardening Projects

Fall tasks in my garden look a little different this year. Take a look at the last blog post to see some of the ways I've had to change directions to allow my own garden to thrive after numerous summer storms.

Working with nature is a statement that gardeners take to heart. We want beautiful gardens that the deer won't eat, but that will attract butterflies and hummingbirds. We embrace native plants, but also enjoy the colors and forms of some 'foreign' trees and shrubs. We will tolerate some insects, but hate the invasive ones like stink bugs and Japanese beetles. We're outdoor people who love summer storms until hurricanes and hail effect our flowers and vegetable harvests. Nature is showing us who's boss in a big way lately. I, for one, am looking forward to a calm, cool fall devoid of too many weather events.

Here are the top 10 things that gardeners in our area will be working on in the landscape.
  1.  Add fall colors. Mums, pansies and other autumn annuals do the job well; mix it up to add calibrachoa, celosia, petunias and other annuals that will continue to thrive well into October and November.
    Verbena, calibrachoa, petunias, euphorbia and other annuals thrive in cool autumn temperatures
  2. Add perennials to extend the season for wildlife. As an added bonus, perennials planted in the fall will be well-rooted by spring.
    Goldenrod is an excellent choice for fall perennial beds

    Allium ' Millennium' is the Perennial Plant Association's choice for 2018 Perennial of the year!
  3. Plant spring flowering bulbs. Ideally, wait for a frost or two before planting tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocus and many of the special bulbs. Most only need 12 weeks of dormancy and will do much better planted later. That being said, get the bulbs now to get the best selection, and keep them in a cool spot until November 1 or so and plant them then.
    Camassia, wild hyacinth, can be planted in the fall and will bloom beautifully in spring
  4. Continue to harvest late-season vegetables like lettuce, broccoli, and other cole crops. These plants are tolerant of frosts.
    Fall vegetables
  5. Prune dead branches from trees and shrubs anytime. Wait until mid-December to prune back roses and other late-bloomers. Do not prune azaleas, rhododendrons or other early to mid-season flowering shrubs as you will be removing spring's buds.
    Pruning out dead hemlock branches
  6. Fall is the single best time to feed and seed the lawn. Bring in a soil sample for our staff to check for pH to see if lime should be added to the soil. Grass seed is available for lawns in full sun, shade, those with heavy traffic and all sorts of other situations.
  7. Look for shrubs and trees for fall color.
    Clethra has nice fall color and is a wonderful butterfly plant
    Also, consider evergreens. They will be great to have during the winter holidays to decorate. Or, prune greenery to make into wreaths, winter arrangements or live garlands.
  8. Consider growing a plant for holiday gift giving. Make a terrarium or fairy garden. Start some beautiful amaryllis. Design and plant a succulent wreath. By starting these projects in the fall, plants will have plenty of time to grow into unique gifts.
    Start a succulent wreath now for holiday decor and gift giving
  9. Mulch...but wait until the garden's soil has cooled to avoid having plants break dormancy. Be careful not to put mulch too close or too deep around plants as it could contribute to rot.
  10. Make notes, and  take pictures to identify successes and challenges, and to prioritize tasks for early spring.
Enjoy the cooler weather and quiet times in the garden this fall and winter. Do take some precautions to help the garden survive and thrive this fall season and get it ready for 2018!