Garden Blogs I Dig
This weekend when we were finishing up the final garden chores of the year I was reflecting on our ever-changing garden and the times spent here. You see, our house is on the market and (hopefully) it will be the last time digging, weeding and cutting this garden. A bittersweet realization.
We took extra special care to make sure all plants were cut to the ground (with the exception of grasses and rose bushes), all pots were dumped and beds were thoroughly raked. And it looked very tidy, but pretty naked too. We removed my beloved compost heap a few weeks ago (admittedly an eyesore to prospective buyers) so I couldn't even save the garden scraps. It just didn't feel right to have all that potential compost in bags on the curb - just there for the taking!
So amidst my barren garden I was taken back by the sheer lack of fall interest it offers. Sure, I have an ornamental grass here and there, and the porcelain berry vine is putting on a show now, but that's it. Pretty pathetic.
So in David Letterman fashion I've created a top ten list of plants to amp up my new garden during the latter part of the growing season (given we move by next spring, keep your fingers crossed).
Top Ten Perennials to Add Hellacious Fall Color to My New Garden at My New Abode
1. Red Twig Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea) - I've always wanted one (or more) of these. The vivid red branches contrast beautifully with fresh, white snow.
2. Burning Bush (Euonymus alatas) - I know these are grossly overused but it's hard to beat the brilliant crimson foliage this time of year.
3. Pig Sqeak (Bergenia cordifolia) - A good groundcover and leaves turn purplish-red in fall. Very nice.
4. Smoketree (Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple) - Purple haze comes to mind when this bush blooms in mid-summer. I adore the purple, oblong-shaped leaves.
5. Fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenii) - This shrub has multi-season appeal, starting with gorgeous blooms in spring and ending with awesome color in fall.
6. Garden mums (Chyrsanthemum sp.) - I used to have garden mums but they tend to be short-lived. Regardless, they come in so many colors now, a great way to add some variety into the fall landscape.
7. Sedum (Sedum sp.) - I do have Sedum 'Autumn Joy', but I never divided it so I had to cut it back since it was drooping to the ground anyway. Point being: need more varieties of sedum at the new casa.
8. Cranesbill (Geranium sanguineum) - A prolific bloomer all season this perennial persists into fall displaying vibrant red foliage.
9. Beautyberry (Calicarpa dichotoma) - Love the cascading bunches of wine-colored berries.
10. Bluestars (Amsonia hubrechtii) - This is the 2011 Perennial Plant Association plant of the year. I feel like I should incorporate the PPA winners in my landscape (You down with PPA? Ya, you know me! Sorry, just a little Naughty By Nature reference.), plus it's totally gorg. Love yellow.
There's my list. Now that I'm done I feel like I should break it up into woodies and herbaceous perennials. I'll work on that list and get back to you - a gardener's work is never finished!
Wow, I cannot believe it's been a month since I've posted! October has been incredibly busy, mostly filled with family and fun - no complaining here! It definitely feels like summer is gone for good now. Wilted plants, freezing temps, fleeces, hats, gloves - the works: all signs that summer has past and winter is coming. Which is fine, like I said, I have no reason to complain considering much of October was spent like this:
The beginning of this month in central Iowa was exquisite! The shortened days were a reminder to get out and enjoy the sunshine while we could...and we did. This time of year the garden pretty much takes care of itself, I didn't want to start chopping it down when we still had days left to enjoy it.
A girls trip to Colorado for a wedding took up a weekend in the middle of the month. Seven girls flew in from Iowa, Illinois and California for our friend's wedding. We stayed in a gorgeous condo in Denver. Here is a view from our patio overlooking the Rocky Mountains.
The wedding took place at Red Rocks National Park, an amazing background to a beautiful wedding and even more beautiful bride. Here we are before the ceremony enjoying the 80 degree weather.
The girls took the opportunity to trek around the park and check out the amphitheater where so many music legends have rocked the house! So cool!
October was also spent outdoors with the family. An annual trip to the pumpkin patch and apple orchard was so fun, and again - terrific weather!
These pumpkin patches aren't what they were in my day. Sure they have the quintessential haystack ride and pumpkin patch, but they also offer a huge variety of activities: slides, apple launchers, bouncy pillows, go-carts, petting zoos, and the ever popular pool of corn. Below my son is jumping into the corn pool, one of a million times he did this.
Needless to say, October has been good to me, and luckily the weather, for the most part, was good to my garden. But, the times they are a changing: the temperature is dropping and the garden is starting to look tired from the long growing season. Time to get down to business!
This year's fall garden chores are simple. Because our house is on the market there are no bulbs to plant which is usually a huge time commitment. The goal is to make it neat and tidy. My plan is to cut it all down, bag it up or store it away and call it good.
Finally, to give me the extra motivation here is a sound clip of my favorite band playing "Let's Get Down to Business." It's my mantra for the weekend and it will be playing loud in my ear buds to keep me moving.WSP Let's Get Down To Business by viewfromthegarden
Sadly, this weekend I made the decision to dump some containers that housed annuals such as begonias, impatiens and petunias. They were looking pretty pathetic due to the streak of cool nights we've had lately. I admit it....I had a bit of a pity party thinking of the eminent winter and lack of all things green. But I gave myself a swift kick in the ass and I replaced the spent flowers with new, happy and festive fall plantings!
I stuck to the basics: mums, pansies and ornamental kale.
I love the deep green and purple hues of this variety of kale. The contrast really makes the yellow pansies pop.
The grass adds some much needed height to this squat container.
Darling bubble gum pink mums accent the dusty foliage of the kale.
I'm happy with the outcome of my fall plantings this year. They are lush, colorful and seasonal. Replacing summer containers with fall annuals is a great way to prolong the growing season and add that extra punch of color into the autumn landscape. Now I just need to insert the quintessential pumpkin here and there for the finishing touch.
Speaking of pumpkins, I recently saw this AFTER I had purchased my mums for the year. Guess I will keep this in mind for next year's fall inspiration. Absolutely beautiful! I will be on the hunt for white pumpkins this year - they really make these spicy burnt-orange mums pop!
With so many varieties and colors, the recipes for a successful fall container are endless. Please share some of your winning autumn containers!
It's not even officially fall yet and the National Weather Service has issued a frost warning for Iowa tonight. Frost can damage annuals, tender perennials, veggies and herbs, Ha! A freeze isn't going to bring my garden to a halt - no way, no how! Follow these tips to prevent frostbite from damaging your garden:
- Water thoroughly. Water emits heat as it condenses to ice and will keep your plants warmer than the air.
- Move small containers into a garage or shed.
- Cover large containers and garden beds with a sheet or light blanket.
- Harvest any remaining veggies and herbs.
The forecast calls for temperatures in the 70's for the weekend, so make sure you take the precautions to prolong your garden into the fall season.
It's no secret I love a good sale so when I got wind the Friends of the Des Moines Botanical Center is hosting the 3rd Annual Bulb Mart this weekend and I made sure to check it out. Tucked back in the private greenhouses, the sale offered an impressive selection of bulbs shipped in from Brent and Becky's Bulbs - a fantastic and reliable company.
I carefully browsed the aisles stocked with allium, anemone, crocus, fritillaria, hyacinth and iris. The selection of tulips and daffodils ranged from tiny species varieties to glamorous peony-like double varieties. I very well could have run a muck like a kid in a candy store, only worse - a gardener at a bulb sale. To stay on task I tucked some cash in my pocket and left the budget-busting duo (a.ka. check book and credit card) in the car. Also, I limited my shopping to a specific area of my garden that is in need of spring color.
I think my favorite buy is this adorable dwarf iris, Iris reticulata 'Pixie'. I'm going to plant these itty-bitty gems amidst early blooming daffodils bordering the front walkway.
I'm so excited to get these in the ground! Actually, on second thought, I'm waiting to plant them after we get a hard frost, so I can hold off for at least a few more weeks.
As you gardeners know, just as the crisp autumn air swoops in, so does a long list of garden chores. Fall is officially here and to help me stay on task I've categorized a to-do list into early and late fall chores. The following is a compilation of chores I'd like to get done in next few weeks and can hopefully help other busy gardeners. Now I just need the weather to cooperate: last Saturday proved to be extremely unproductive as the rain consistently fell, forcing me (wink wink) to watch college football much of the day (Go Hawks!!).
Take Inventory and Prepare
This is a great time to survey the garden; journal and take pictures for later reference. Make note of bare areas, perennials that need dividing and trees and shrubs that need pruning. You can even stake these areas so you know exactly where you need to make changes.
Take a look at your containers - what worked and didn't work this year? I start most of my annuals by seed to save money. It's useful to have a list of "favorites" get a jump-start in spring and save some cash.
Buy spring and early summer flowering bulbs now. My favorite place to order bulbs is Brent and Becky's Bulbs. Browse from a huge variety of tulips, daffodils, hyacinth and crocus.
Map out where you are planting bulbs. Again, note any bare areas in your garden but don't forget to account for your existing bulbs that will emerge in spring.
Wait to plant the bulbs until after the first frost. If the bulbs arrive early, put them in a paper bag and store them in the crisper of the refrigerator. Keep them away from other fruits and veggies to avoid them from rotting.
Cut Back and Divide Perennials
Cut back perennials that have finished blooming. Be careful not to cut back any plants that provide winter interest or seeds for birds to feed on in the cold months such as bloody cranesbill (Geranium sanguineum),coneflowers (Echinacea sp.) and goldenrod (Solidago sp.).
Early fall is the ideal time to divide many perennials: the temperature is not as sweltering as the summer months and there is ample time for the plant to re-establish before winter. Often times I'm too busy in spring to get around to dividing unruly perennials. Plants that can be divided in fall include daylilies, hostas, penstemon, coreopsis and peonies. Plants on my list to divide this fall are sedum (although its blooming, it has completely collapsed and looks terrible), shasta daisy and persicaria.
Plant Fall Annuals and Begin Container Clean-Up
Many of my potted annuals have had their day in the sun and are spent. Start cleaning out containers filled with spindly annuals and herbs. My potted basil for instance has bloomed and therefore has served its purpose for the year. You can harvest many herbs that are still thriving and freeze them at their peak to use during the cold months. Pots that you aren't going to be used again until next year can be hosed off and stored until spring.
Plant florist's mums and other fall containers to add seasonal interest and prolong the growing season. Colorful mums are a must in my house but I also like to plant other autumn containers with grasses, ornamental kale and cool-loving pansies.
Shop around your local garden center while you're there picking up cool season annuals. Fall is a great time to find discounted perennials and it's not too late to get them in the ground!
Edge Garden Beds
Finally, if I have time I want to edge my garden beds. I learned this technique while working in a test garden for a major publication and it is the simplest edging technique out there. Visitors of the garden would ohh and ahh over the pristinely-edged beds and little did they know how easy it was to accomplish the clean look. All you need is a garden spade, a pair of gloves and a little brawn.
With your gloves on, place the spade near the edge of the bed and make a clean indentation along the entire edge of the bed. Go back around and pull away the loosened earth. Shake the clumps to rid of as much loose dirt as you can. Continue around the perimeter of the garden bed and wala! - a beautiful edge.
I'm curious to hear what garden chores you are tackling in the next few weeks; please comment with tips and ideas!
The weatherman promises a full week of nothing but glorious sunshine so I don't have any excuses. Time to get to work!