Tag Archives: autumn

Edible Garden

dahliaHard frost came to my home garden in the wee hours of Monday morning. Here at the top of Kingston Hill, the Botanical Garden had none to speak of, but the plants are looking pretty tired. Lack of rain, deer, woodchucks, and rabbits took their toll this year! Wide swaths of Phlox and Chelone were eaten to little nubs, then eaten again. Hostas disappeared early on. Echinacea has become a wildlife delicacy. Annuals were lunch as soon as they were set out. There are a few bright spots:  Japanese Anemones (eaten and recovered), Dahlias  (near the road= not eaten), Toad Lilies (also eaten and recovered), Ornamental Peppers (untouched!), Callicarpa, and of course, beautiful fall foliage.

Toad Lily/Tricyrtisanemonedisanthus leavesstewartia

Callicarpa/Purple Beautyberry

Oh, and last but not least: Gaillardia, in the All-America Selections Display Garden. These little plants fly under the radar at the annual Plant Sale, but they can’t be beat. They are perennials blooming first year from seed (started April 1st), withstand heat, drought, animals, and insects. October 21 –still blooming! Save a garden spot for them in the spring.

Gaillardia

 

September Sights

Rudbeckia

Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’   ‘Indian Summer’,  I think!  That’s what happens when I let everything seed in…

rose

Rosa ‘Dortmund’

locust borer beetle

Megacyllene robiniae, the Locust Borer Beetle. A new one to me!

ant and bee

Apis mellifera, warming my beekeeper’s heart, and an ant (Lasius niger??) on Hydrangea ‘Tardiva’.

goldenrod and physostegia

Solidago and Physostegia, the colors of September.

 

At the End of the Year

For the last blog of the year here are a few favorite pictures from 2013. Some of them are of beautiful things and some of them just make me smile, like the picture of all the seedlings coming up for the plant sale.  Happy New Year!

Jan 24 2013 012

January 24th 2013, frost patterns on the glass inside the Conservatory. Temperature outside was -3 F.

blizzard 2013

February 8th, 2013, the Blizzard left about 18 inches (?) of snow in South County and damaged many, many trees

hamamelis/witch hazel

March , signs of spring!

seedlings in greenhouse

April, seedlings for plant sale.

solomon seal

azaleas

May is glorious!

June, midsummer, green.

June, midsummer, green.

July, full of colors.

July, full of colors.

August

August.

August 8 2013-012

sedum 'Autumn Joy'

September

PLS 351

October–fall is the best time to plant!

dahlia tubers

November, putting away the dahlias for the winter.

holly

December.

A few chores left

snow on epimediumBecause I often work outside, I devotedly check the weather every morning, and evening, and sometimes in between…OK, I am an obsessive weather checker.  It’s either NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, at weather.gov, or Accuweather at accuweather.com.  I usually check both, because sometimes the forecasts are different enough that I am left scratching  my head and wondering how they make their predictions. Suffice to say that while we did get our first snow flurries of the season this morning, it was not the 1-2 inches predicted by… one of the above.

There are still outdoor chores left to do, mostly the last bit of cutting back perennials for the winter. Raking is mostly done, and we won’t begin pruning trees and shrubs until after the new year. The most pressing chore right now is to dig the dahlia tubers, because tonight’s temperature is supposed to be 18 F (or is that 23 F?). Either way, too cold for a plant native to Mexico!

Although it will warm up by the end of the week, we are done planting for the season. By now there is not enough time for perennials to establish new roots before the ground is too cold. It’s a good time to dig new garden beds though, (as long as the ground is not frozen!) and a great time to spread compost on the existing beds. Any time I can switch a chore from spring to fall I do, since spring is filled with it’s own welcome insanity. Where do you garden, and what garden chores do you have left?

Fall Is the Best Time To Plant

digging spade

“Fall is the best time to plant”  That’s what I tell my students (and anyone who asks). The shorter days and cooler temperatures make it easier for transplants to spread their roots without us hovering nearby with the sprinkler. Usually there’s some rain too, though not this fall, not much. But the dry weather is not nearly the problem it would be in the spring and so we are madly digging and dividing perennials all over the garden.

Why divide? After a few years — as few as 3 or as many as 10 — perennial plants begin to lose vigor. Often they grow toward the outside, leaving an empty space in the middle like a bird’s nest. They may flower less, have smaller leaves, or flop over more. They may also have gotten too big for their space in the garden. Dividing re-invigorates the plants, and as Tracy Aust says, “It can be very satisfying, having a rejuvenating effect on perennial and gardener alike.”

Of course, after digging and dividing and transplanting, you may have more plants than you can use.  I overwinter many garden-dug perennials for our spring plant sale, but space is at a premium this year. A truckload of perennials has been donated to two local schools, saving me from having to compost them. Thanks Jayne and Hilary, for gardening with the kids!

One last thought about digging and dividing: the plants may not look great at first but in the spring they’ll look better than ever.

hosta bed The Hosta bed under the Metasequoia was dug up and replanted.

pink chrysanthemumsOver near the Co-operative Extension parking lot we  put in new plants to go with these great Chrysanthemums that look like pink daisies.

bee balm/monardaLauren and I dug, divided, and replanted Bee Balm in the ericacious garden and the sunny border. We also took some Siberian Iris out of a bed that was too shady and put in Ligularia, which I think will do well in this moist, shady spot.

digging Joe-PyeAdam and Ben got started digging up the monster Joe-Pyes in the back of the sunny border. Topping out at 10-12 feet this year, their root balls are two feet across. They are going to be moved back so the rest of the plants can breathe.

dahliasStill no frost here, so flowers continue to bloom, especially dahlias, which seem to get bigger and more colorful every day.

Thirty Days in September…

GaillardiaThe weather has been nothing short of spectacular — blue sky, golden sun, perfect temperatures. The angle of the light is changing for sure; fall has arrived. Rumors of frost come in from Carolina (“down in the valley”) and from the banks of the Saugatucket in Wakefield –enough frost to scrape off the car windshield. But not here on Kingston Hill. Although the colors are fading a bit and the green leaves are dusty looking, full autumn foliage has not arrived. Just a bit of yellow on the Sassafras and red on the Tupelo. Flowers are still blooming in the garden. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Autumn joy sedumbee on sunflowerasterechinaceae 'cheyenne spirit'anemonesverbena bonariensis

Getting Back to My Chores

perennials in flats

After Hurricane Sandy, Election Day, Northeast Greenhouse Conference, a nor’easter, and Veterans Day, it’s time to get back to gardening. Right before the storm, Dr. Maynard’s PLS 350 class came out and helped me dig up most of the plants in the sunny border. The plants have been sitting outside in my “cold frame/nursery” area behind the greenhouses. They are semi-bare root, since they are in flats covered with fallen leaves, but not potted up. When the weather is cool they can sit that way for a long time. Fortunately they won’t need to, because tomorrow we plan to replant the border, again with help from the class. Divisions of the plants which were dug up will go back in with room to spread their roots. A few thing which did not do well there are not invited back! And maybe a few new plants just to change it up.

garden bed

Our other chore for the day will be lifting the dahlia tubers. The dahlias were cut back after the first hard frost (“Changing Seasons“) but left in the ground. Waiting until the last minute to dig them up reduces the amount of time they will be in storage, where there is the possibility of decay in the tubers. Where to store them? Not too warm, not too cold, not too wet, not too dry! Maybe under my basement bulkhead stairs, or maybe Dr. Maynard’s root cellar.

dahlias waiting to be dug

The weather for tomorrow looks to be sunny and cool, perfect for working in the garden. I love being outside at this time of year. With the right layers (as our friend Russ says, “It’s all in the gear”), and maybe a hat, I’m outside all day, enjoying deep breaths of cool refreshing air that’s like a long drink of water. Bright sunshine lifts my spirits, and a daydream about how good it will look in the spring keeps me going.

Enkianthus fall colorJust for Fun: This Enkianthus is one of the last plants in the Botanical Garden still displaying beautiful fall foliage. My favorite plant blog, “Botany Photo of the Day”, featured an Enkianthus recently — “Enkianthus campanulatus“.