Written By: Renee Godfrey Quillin
As temperatures begin to fall and there is a cool crisp sensation in the air, this is one of the busiest times year in the life of a gardener. As plants begin to go dormant or dieback, this marks the beginning a completely new display with the right design and type pf plants. Autumn is also the perfect time to prepare for the upcoming Spring by adding bulbs to your flowerbeds. And nothing welcomes Autumn more than a fresh new design of cool season annuals!
Autumn makes a busy season for us gardeners and here are a couple general landscaping maintenance dos and don’ts. Some dos involves cutting back herbaceous perennials and leaf clean-up. Cutting back herbaceous perennials helps ward of disease and pest that could have a negative impact on that particular perennial if left to overwinter. Same goes for leaf removal which could harbor undesirable molds and fungus. As don’ts go it is important cease all deciduous tree pruning as they begin to go dormant and not resume until the Winter. The same goes for all broad leaf evergreens as it is best to stop pruning and not resume until after the first flush in late Spring. By following these proper maintenance practices will help ensure a happy healthy garden.
In preparation for an inviting colorful Spring garden bed, bulb planting is one of the many tasks at hand. There are a variety of early, mid to late Spring blooming bulbs. Daffodils are an early emerging bulb that do well to create blanket of white, yellow and orange flowers. Tulips and Hyacinth are mid-blooming bulbs that add not only a variety of color to your flowerbed, but both have a delightful and welcoming fragrance. The Allium finishes off as a late blooming bulb with an amazing show in height and color.
With the falling temperatures, a variety both deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs have berries that provide food for birds and wildlife and it is this time of year is when you can see these berries begin to ripen in a variety of colors. We will focus on the hardiest understory trees and shrubs in the region. The Beautyberry displays a beautiful cluster of purple berries along each branch. The Juniper berries range from a deep blue to a silvery blue, which makes for a great offset to create a focal point from the surrounding typical Autumn colors. As a Dogwood’s leaves begin to change and fall to the ground, the Flowing Dogwood displays a bright red berry as well as the unique branching structure of the branches themselves. Hollies like the evergreen American Holly displays a vibrant red berry against the dark green foliage that makes for an eye-catching display for Autumn.
Along with evergreen trees and shrubs, Ornamental Grasses add interest to a somewhat barren Winter landscape. They come in an abundant of sizes that offer the opportunity to be add just any landscape design. With Autumn setting, Ornamental Grasses will take on a beautiful golden color that gets illuminated by the low hanging Sun. This also provides a comforting habit for wildlife through the cold Winter months.
As the growing season comes to an end, not only do some plants prefer the cold but thrive in it. That is exactly what we use for our Cool Season Annuals! This is a great opportunity to add color to your planters and even flower beds when most warm weather flowering perennials and bulbs have died back. There are quite a few cool season plants that do well, but I am going to focus on the perfect varieties that will last all the way through Autumn/Winter and even well into Spring for this area.
Pansies are a great addition to any planter or flower bed. Pansies have large flowers and come in a variety of colors from cool purples and blues to warm shades such as bright yellows, oranges and reds. Violas are a great companion to go with the Pansies. Violas flowers are much smaller than the Pansies, so they make a great accent flower to the large petals of the Pansy flower. Another great feature about the Violas is that in the middle of Winter Pansies tend to do dormant all while the Viola continues to show its blooms., Finally, one of the best cool season plants and Ornamental Kale and Cabbages. Both do very well all Winter long and can be planted in mass groupings for a simple yet classy look or they can be added in with Pansies and Violas for assortment and texture.
Even though our most abundantly blooming plants have retreated and hunkered down for the cold times ahead does not mean that the landscape must be boring. There are a variety of eye-catching options to add to your garden.