gardeners mourn the ending of summer-what they perceive to be the
pinnacle of flower growing season. However, gardeners in the know
realize fall can be just as beautiful a time for flowers in the garden.
Many flowers that put on a spectacular fall show, such as Dahlias, are
bulbs that must be planted in spring. But since this is fall, what can
be planted now? Don't despair, there's still time to try fall blooming
bulbs such as lycoris, or 'Surprise Lily', fall crocus, or colchicum.
"Something different for your fall interest garden would be asters,
anemones, toad lilies, turtle heads, a re-blooming iris or liriope,"
said Matt Grote of Waldorf Pottery in White Plains.
Aster blooms resemble mums, but with thinner, smaller petals. A new
variety to take note of is the 'Monte Cassino'; it gets 4 feet tall, and
produces tons of white blooms beginning in mid-September.
Anemones come from China; some varieties survive in the colder
elevations, so they're safe for our zone. They bloom from late summer
through fall. They can range in height from 2 feet to 4 feet and
sometimes need staking because of the weight of their flower heads. One
elegant charmer's bloom, 'Richard Ahrens,' looks like a small tree peony
flower, which is probably why the Japanese love to cultivate it.
"Some of my oddball favorites are toad lilies, or 'Tricyrtis,'" said
Grote. "They have a dappled white and purple flower on arching stems
like orchids. Turtle heads, or 'Chelone,' are pink and white and
resemble snapdragons. It likes marshy conditions and full sun. I'd also
suggest a re-blooming bearded iris. However, the color selection is not
as large as the summer bloomers. And liriope is a very nice short, dark
green grass with a lavender flower, and followed by dark berries.
Lastly, don't forget shrubs. The burning bush plant turns a bright red
in the fall."
Since the plants mentioned above shine in the fall, it's a good time to
choose the color you want, and plant them now. While in the container
place them in the garden to make sure their color and shape is right for
the surrounding plantings. And don't forget to plan for future growth.
Lastly, don't forget the golden rule; the right plant for the right
place. Make sure your spot is where the plant's descriptive tag says it
Fall is the ideal time to turn your attention to the green stuff you've
been walking and jumping on all summer. Jenna Sansler at Wentworth
Nursery recommends "a slow release fertilizer from Schultz, because it
generates a better root system. Adding lime is necessary in Southern
Maryland because of our clay soil. Apply one 40-pound bag per 1,000
square feet, or 50 bags an acre. Water it in, but don't soak it. We also
recommend seeding with Wentworth's brand of Tall Fescue, 'White House.'"
An established lawn should be aerated every one to three years for
maximum results, said Sansler. If you haven't got the time or
inclination, a landscape company can provide aeration and seeding for
Tom Woods of Complete Landscaping Service said, "If your lawn is
established, and has more grass than weeds in it, we would begin by
killing the weeds first with a non-selective herbicide like Round-up
[Remember not to overuse non-selective herbicides on weeds in a Bay
Critical area]. Then we'd start a follow-up winter service, which
consists of core-aeration, seeding, feeding and liming." Lime raises the
pH to a perfect level of 7.0 for turf grass, but a bad pH level for
"Water is crucial for seven days," Woods added. "After that, water every
other day, then every three days."
Right now Mum is the word, but don't forget to plant your spring
bloomers like crocus, daffodils, hyacinth, and tulips at this time. In
fact, if you layer your bulbs on top of each other, with the earliest
bloomer on top, you'll have a continuous burst of color and fragrance
through to the heat of summer.
Fall Gardening Checklist
Stock up on birdseed for your feeders and also empty and clean out
birdbaths and store for winter.
Clean out birdhouses from the nesting season.
If you have a fishpond, remove water plants and cut back. Seal the root
balls in a garbage bag and store in a cool garage.
Clean out used clay pots with soap and water-dry out well before storing
them where they can't freeze and crack.
Re-seed and fertilize your lawn.
After the first frost, remove all blackened annuals-also remove and
destroy diseased foliage. Don't throw on compost pile!
Replace spent annuals with wintering plant selections-such as winter
pansies or wintering kale for color.
Dig up tender bulbs such as dahlia, canna and gladiola, wrap them in
moist material and store in a cool, dark space.
Plant spring blooming bulbs.
Divide and transplant perennials and ground covers.
Clean, sharpen and oil garden implements.
Prune trees, shrubs and vines.
Fertilize young trees and shrubs that have been in the ground for at
least a year. No need to fertilize established trees.
Have your underground irrigation professionally flushed.
Clean up fall leaves-dead leaves can harbor diseases, which lead to
Drain garden hoses and store.
Aerate your compost pile one last time-try using a cordless drill with a
bulb-planter attachment to get air underneath your black gold.
Give your trees and shrubs a good drink if there has not been a lot of
rain. If the ground is dry when it freezes it will cause drought
symptoms next spring.
Cut back perennials and herbs at the last minute-remove debris from
Mix in a fresh layer of compost to the vegetable garden and turn the
Apply a fresh layer of mulch to flower beds, trees, and shrubs to
prevent drying out and freezing of roots.