Fall Flowers In The Garden

Fall flowers in the garden add color to those trees that are turning color. Find out how to take care of flowers, trees, shrubs and perennials.

Fall is a transitional season. Spring represents newness, summer is colorful and easy, and winter is meditative. During the summer you garden early in the morning and the heat of the day pushes you back indoors But now you can weed and water and clean up as you please. There is no pressure to beat the heat. In fall, you can linger over hot coffee in the morning. When the sun finally comes up and warms the yard a bit, head outside to the final days of the growing season.

In September, the plants have slowed down their growth considerably. Flowers don't open everyday, and when they do, it's a slow process. Deadheading (removing spent flowers) is not such a time-consuming chore anymore. Let the flowers go to seed now and collect some of them to plant the following spring. Seeds should be thoroughly dry on the plant and gathered up into a small paper envelope, marked with the name, color, year and location. Some seeds that are acclimated to certain locations will not thrive in other places, even locally. A plant that does well on the coast may not do well in the mountains, so it's important to know where the seed originated. Of course it's always a fun experiment to try and grow plants from various locales.

Harvest some seeds for sowing and save the rest for the birds. Pull up plants that have been killed by the first frost. These are mostly the tender annuals in the vegetable garden - herbs, flowers and heat-loving vegetables. Compost them in a corner of the yard where there may also be a brush pile from spring pruning. Add extra mulch to the now bare beds to keep the soil from washing away with inevitable rain and snow. Mulch also helps the soil retain good friability, so it's not like a rock in the spring from winter exposure.

Experiment with this. Mulch part of your garden and leave a small spot exposed. come planting time in spring, notice in which patch it is easier to dig and plant. You'll be in favor of mulch after getting the results!

Don't cut back spent flowers on perennials. Instead of cutting the garden back as far as possible, leave the dried flower stalks to catch the first snow, and you'll never cut them back again. Trim the ones that block the low winter sun from the windows, but leave the rest as beautiful scenery all winter. It's also important to cut back iris leaves, with sharp scissors or clippers, about 6" above the ground on a slight angle.

In fall, go to the end-of-season sales at the nurseries and buy a few things you deem "necessary"! On sale, large perennials with more stamina are at an affordable price. Throughout the summer, take note of what colors and bloom times you're lacking and buy accordingly. The benefit of planting perennials in fall as opposed to spring is that they will have a jump on the spring growing season. They will have adjusted to their bed and simply take off when the snow melts and the days lengthen and warm up. Spring-planted perennials spend that time adjusting, instead of growing.

Add more mulch to the flower beds in the form of straw or compost. There's never too much mulch. In summer it helps retain moisture, keep down weeds and allows the soil to stay cool. In winter, it keeps the soil frozen so plants don't heave out of it in warm spells.

Those end-of-season nursery sales are also a good time to buy trees. They prefer fall planting for putting out root growth. In spring, they are spending their energy flowering to make fruit or seeks. Plant trees in fall and water them daily until winter has undoubtedly arrived. If the winter is dry, trees need a monthly watering.

Fall is not time for pruning trees and shrubs. This should be done in spring or summer, depending on the plant. Leave the plant with as much growth as possible to take into account winterkill and breakage from storms. To prune now would leave nothing left after spring pruning.

Get out an old reliable leaf rake and rake up leaves, fruit drops, dead grass, and whatever else is laying in the yard. Compost all of it in wire cages and add manure to activate the process.

Roll up your hoses, put the tools in the shed, and return to your coffee, because by now the days will be chilly. Warm up by sitting in a sunny window and wait for the snow to quietly cover the branches of the new trees.

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