Happy Spring! So how should we celebrate the vernal equinox here in The Burrow???? hmmmm, I know….Let’s plan for autumn!
All too often I hear gardeners( and the general public too ) complain that late summer and fall hold in store a sad garden that is past its prime , brown and dull. Well that is just poor planning my friend. And when, do you ask ,is the right time to gear up for August and September? Why, it’s March of course!
Right now you should be assesing any downtime you may have had last fall and looking through nursery lists and of course shopping for plants to fill the voids.
In late springtime , when the soil is drier and workable, it will be the time to plant out all the lovely perennials that will make your fall garden an absolute joy…and you need to be prepared!
Luecanthemum species, or mums as we call them are the obvious first choice, BUT most nurseries will only sell them in the fall, when they are in bloom, and when they will likely not survive transplanting. They also sell varieties that are not winter hardy here in the North East and are doomed to death at hard frost.
The trick, my gardening friends, is to order them direct from a grower or catalogue , and plant them now giving them time to establish before winter. The great thing is that almost all of them….though planted as teeny tiny starts….will grow and bloom within their first year, causing excited utterances upon viewing in September. Faribault Growers in Minnesota has quite a lovely selection, and extremely reasonable prices, and the plants arrive healthy and every single one of them I have ordered and planted in spring has bloomed that fall and overwintered just fine. An added bonus is that Faribault gives in their catalogue description the expected weeks of bloom for each plant so you can order several varieties to have blooming over many weeks. How great is that?
Lest you think I am abandoning my favorite plant, now is the time you should also be scooping up as many clematis plants as you can afford to add lots of color to the fall garden.Plant them to grow through lilacs, forsythia, hydrangeas, once blooming roses, hollies……really just about any shrub for a much needed infusion of drama on your green
blobs shrubs in August and September. Here is a partial list of who was blooming in my garden late last year…..
Comtesse de Bouchard
Pope John Paul II
sweet autumn (terniflora)
vitacella ‘Betty Corning’
texensis ‘Gravetye Beauty’
. . ‘Dr. Ruppel’
tanquitica’Bill McKenzie’ and two herbaceuos species, joiniana’Mrs Robert Brydon’ , and integrifolia ‘Rosea’ ( all with no photos , guess I got lazy)
Not bad for a dull fall garden huh?
Don’t forget roses either. Spring is the only time to order and plant bare root roses and last year I had lots that carried the garden right into late October .The latest were the knockouts- double pink and red, the drift roses both’sweet’ and ‘pink’, the polyantha “The Fairy” and the magic carpet roses
Ending right before them were the David Austin’Christopher Marlowe’, ‘Carefree Spirit’, Easy Elegance “Yellow Brick Road’, ”Seafoam’ and climbers “New Dawn’ and “Iceberg”…who says roses are only for June???
Other easy to grow plants for late summer/fall are caryopteris or blue mist shrub which has many new variegated and yellow leaved cultivars, the new cultivars of Hibiscus (Rose of Sharon) many of which are sterile so no seeding issues, late season hydrangeas like h.paniculata ‘Limelight’ and it’s new dwarf cousin ‘Little Lime’ , turtle head or chelone galabra, tricyrtis or toad lillies, and Naked Ladies or lycoris squamigera.
One plant I pot up now and play the ” indoors-outdoors game”, ( which is when you lug pots inside the house when cold or frost threatens and leave them outside on sunny warm days, and is only fun for spying neighbors who get a kick out of your wackiness), is dahlias. This plant is waaaay underated for the long season of bloom it can give you. Started indoors and easier than any seed you will ever grow, the dahlia tubers sprout quickly and grow very fast and are blooming quite early on here and last until several frosts finally kick them down. Wether or not you overwinter the tubers inside, they are still a bargain for the amount of blooms per plant per season and great for cutting and arranging.
Those are my faves….do you have any I need to add?
Let’s get planning! Spring is here!