A few weeks ago, the foliage of my native Dogwoods turned a wonderful shade of maroon. Though quite beautiful, I found myself a little sad to see summer coming to a close. I welcome the crisp cool air, and the way many of my plants perk up for a final show, but I can’t help longing for just a few more of those lazy days of summer. After the rain from our recent storms, the reservoirs should be partially replenished from the effects of our drought in August and September. Hopefully, some of the rain found its way into your soil as well. Our plants really needed the relief.
The Siren of my Garden is calling, especially during these past few warm days. There’s a lot to do to get ready for the winter, and on beautiful days like today, it is a pleasure to be outside.
CUT BACK UNSIGHTLY PERENNIALS…Most perennials will flop just before winter. Most do not have to be cut back until March, but I like to take care of most of the cut back in the fall in order to reduce the amount of work to do in the spring. If the upper foliage is crisping up, and you see some fresh new foliage at the base, then it will be safe to cut back the plant to the basal foliage. Echinacea, Ligularia and Rudbeckia are prime examples of plants ready to be cut back to the basal foliage right now. Whenever possible, I like to wait until the foliage goes dormant, but must admit that I sometimes jump the gun when they have flopped onto the ground.
SEEDS…Do you have any plants you want to propagate? If you are able to harvest some seeds, try planting them 1-2” deep. Just deep enough to prevent them washing away with the next rain, and shallow enough to still mimic Mother Nature. This method will also prevent their movement during leaf cleanup. Do mark the location so you can try to find them in the spring.
PLANTING…This is also a perfect time to install new plants. Though most should be planted before November, there are quite a few deciduous trees that can be planted as long as the ground isn’t frozen.
LEAF CLEANUP…I wish I had a leaf grinder. All of those leaves are about to fall, and it would be perfect to be able to grind them up and toss them back on the garden. No more mulch! How enticing is that! If anyone knows of a leaf grinder looking for a new home, please let me know.
EVERGREENS LOSING THEIR LEAVES…No need to panic. Evergreens generally shed about 30-40% of their foliage every year. Some may be shedding a bit more than normal this year to compensate for the drought. The timing for the evergreens is not quite as predictable as the deciduous trees, so if your plant decides to shed at a different time than other species in the neighborhood, there’s no need to worry.
ENJOY…Autumn’s show of brilliant colors is on the horizon. Enjoy nature’s grand finale.