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Fall is perfect–perfect for gardening that is. It’s cool temps allow you to work outside without breaking too much of a sweat. Recently, the slow rain quenches the thirst of any plants you put in the ground.
This weather inspired me to get out and garden. The summer really bummed me out. I thought I had lost that loving feeling for gardening. Nope. It is still there. And after an entire weekend in the mud….yeah, it has come back with a vengence.
Top priority for me…prune and move. Let’s explore moving first. Now that I have be gardening for 3 years now, I have finally gotten some established beds. But they need some maintaince. Recently, I moved several plants. They grew and looked out of place.
Three things to consider when deciding to move your plants:
- Plants need room. I find that I plant way to close to a fence or house or backdrop. When you plant grows this becomes overwhelmingly apparent. If your shrub is too close, it is time to move it–foward at least.
- Be prepared to water. Just like that spinning or Zumba class, when you are tired and thirsty, well that is probably how your plant feels. Exhausted from the move and water soothes that trauma. Don’t water to much though…everything in moderation
- Embrace your anxiety about it. I was so nervous to move my plants. Just look at these pics:
These plants looks miserable, right? It will be alright and it is perfectly natural to be nervous about doing something for the first time. Leaves may fall off, but they will come back in spring. Don’t let that prevent you from moving though…gardens are supposed to evolve.
So Get Out and Garden!
So early this fall, I went on a trip to one of my favorite nurseries, Camelia Forest in Chapel Hill. They were having a BOGO(buy one get one sale). I couldn’t resist and picked up a Chaenomeles Japonica, Texas Scarlet Flowering Quince.
And I must say I was surprised at my Texas Scarlet Flowering Quince. As soon as I put it in the ground in September it was already producing flowers. And over this Thanksgiving holiday, BAM…it is showing off more than any other plant. This is probably in part by all this wacky weather we are having, but I will take it.
Here’s the skinny on the Texas Scarlet Flowering Quince:
- It is a deciduous shrub that grows between 3 feet tall and about 5 feet wide.
- It normally blooms in the spring.
- It has red cluster flowers that are great for cutting.
- In the beginning, it will require water in intense heat as it establishes itself.
- You can use a general fertilizer, nothing special.
- Prune after it flowers in the spring.
You should definitely grow the Texas Scarlet Flowering Quince.
It attracts birds and you can make jam out of the edible fruit if you get enough.
I don’t know about you, but as a somewhat beginner gardner whenever I have new plants, I am always monitoring their progress. The fall for me sometimes comes with anxiety if I have a new deciduous shrub or tree. If I haven’t gone through an autumn with a new plant and I start seeing the yellowing of the leaves, I have to remind myself that this is natural.
Many new and even experienced gardeners wonder if their plant is dying once and a while, and we all must remember–
Two important things about gardening:
- Consider the season when evaluating your plant’s health. The fall is the time when leaves change, crinkle and fall off of deciduous plants. Labeling plants really help to keep the sanity, in case you forget if a new shrub is supposed to lose it’s leaves.
- Accepting death as a part of gardening in order to enjoy it for the long term. Many people say to me…I tried gardening, but everything died….when I dug a little deeper, most of the time just a few plants died and people give up. You have to be willing to let go when you are a gardener…some things live and some things die. That is one of the most valuable lessons I have learned on my gardening journey. What works in one person’s garden, may not in yours. That’s ok. Just keep at it. Your persistence will be rewarded.
Here is your call to arms…now the weather has cooled off, it is time to get outside and start working on the garden. As a passionate gardener, I am not afraid to admit that I take the summer off. It is too hot to be digging for me and the plants. But the weather has started to turn and that is my wake up call to get digging, weeding, and planting.
Top 3 things to do this weekend to kick-start the fall garden season:
1) Pull it out. Dig up your dying summer veggies and all the weeds that have been creeping in while you were in your summer heat comma.
2) Till or turn it up. Time to toss the dirt. Add in some time-released fertilizer and prep your beds for the fall and winter crops. Co-writer Chris suggests some tasty greens…I am in.
3) Take a picture of your garden now. You can do 1 of 2 things with it. One, you can take an inventory of what you have, what needs dividing or removed and use that to create your fall gardening plan. Or two, you can save the pics for winter when it is cold and you can plan your spring attack.
So when it is a bit chilly this weekend, get motivated and get digging. Lots to do before Old Man Winter sets in. I don’t know about you…but I am ready to get dirty!
So while many may be out fighting the holiday-sale crowd, I choose a much more productive route this Thanksgiving weekend. I worked in the garden…there is still time to get your garden-zen on, the weekend is still here. I choose to do some much needed moving. Fall and winter are the best times to move plants because the heat won’t wilt them and it allows plants several months to establish their roots.
Here is what I did:
1) I raised my bed. I added topsoil to the back half of one of my beds. During the summer, I did half, because I didn’t want to move everything in the summer. I added topsoil and a slow release fertilizer. I bet you I hauled over a dozen loads of dirt to raise this bed. I bought a bunch of topsoil in the spring that has lasted me through this whole garden season. Buying in bulk is convenient and less expensive, BUT you have to haul it a lot unless you can have the big dump truck to put the dirt where you can store it. I keep telling myself it is another workout….wink, wink.
2)Hit a late perennial sale. From the end of October to now is a great time to get super-cheap perennials. Last year I bought 40 plants for a dollar each. All came back but one. A pretty good track record if you ask me or if you ask anyone. I got mine from Campbell Road Nursery–even they said it was the best record they had heard of…impressed yet? I love perennials…they give the gift of living year after year. Plus, if you are a newbie, they are a great investment of time and money.
4)Stake out your locations. A lot of my plants love full sun, but I don’t have that much full sun, so I drew each section of my yard and divided it into sun, part sun, part shade and shade.
5)Draft a plan. Yep, I actually made a plan. I made a list of the things I had on one sheet of paper and then drew a sketch of my beds. I researched the heights of the plants so I can choose the location wisely. Before I would just put my plants in the ground and ignored their height. I figured if at least I got the sun and soil right, I could always move it later. Well, it’s later.
Suit up and get to diggin’ and movin’. It is perfect weather, slightly cool with a breeze so you don’t sweat to death. I find this time of year I can work a lot longer outside than late spring or late summer when it just gets too hot. Plus, prevent the T-day “fat kid syndrome” by working off those mashed potatoes and gravy in the garden.
What did I move? I moved all my roses to one location into my newly formed “cut flower” bed, where I am going to grow flowers that I can cut and take inside. I moved all my day lilies, iris, penta, aneomnia…some of my canna and ginger (they were in the front…that whole height problem). I moved my gardenia closer to the house. Voila, a weekend full of moving and digging and a garden transformed.
Speaking of Thanksgiving, my time in my garden really allowed me time to think of all I am thankful for this season. Just me and my dirt really offers a quiet reflection of the wonderful blessings I have. If you were feeling a little grumpy about this holiday and the ensuing Christmas extravaganza, I recommend going out and working in your garden. It does wonders.