Category Archives: Gardening

Fall Favorites

fall

 

When I had a roofdeck, I would plant morning glories in every container and by the end of the summer, their huge blue flowers would cover every rail (and take a few hours to cut down late fall!).  The best morning glory for quantity of blooms is Heavenly Blue.  If planted in the ground, they can become invasive so must be managed – ie. Keep your eyes peeled and pull up extras in the spring.

My favorite combinations for a yard include blue asters, Sedum Autumn Joy and Montauk Daisies planted together.  You might find Montauk Daisies at the local Whole Foods sold as potted plants – just throw them in the ground for a fairly large shrub for next year!  These are very hardy, very florific white daisies in the late fall when nothing else is in bloom.  Trim these down some in fall but primarily in early spring (before June).  These will also easily root if a branch is touching the soil so are easily proliferated.  Note that asters are also very easy to just shovel in half to divide.  I was so glad I had divided my favorite before it was infested and killed by AZALEA LACE BUGS.  Lesson there is to take quick action when you see anything starting to falter – inspect and deal with it.

Caution:  I would not plant a white aster, which is lovely for a few years, and then will invade your entire bed and spread around your yard.  Do not do it!

Mums are great and are perennials – I have heard if you buy the ones distributed in the fall and plant them early enough, they might come back.  I haven’t had much luck with that but have beautiful perennial ones I have ordered from catalogs and planted in the spring.  Mums will also spread so don’t hesitate to pull out strays you see coming up.  They get to be 3-4’ tall and should be staked late August.  Nothing beats a few mums bought at the local nursery to spruce up a worn bed – I will plant them in sets of 3 in my main perennial beds.

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Container Planting

“Success has been defined as the ability to go from failure to failure with equal enthusiasm.”  – Unknown with some attributions to Lincoln or Churchill

The first year I did container gardening on my Boston roofdeck, I carried four 30 gallon leaf bags full of dirt down five flights of stairs in the fall. I didn’t know I could reuse “dirt” year after year by adding a little cow manure and compost to freshen the pots.  And potting/container mix is not the same as garden soil, which is much heavier and has a different composition.  My preference is for Coast of Maine products but definitely beware of Kellogg organic plus found at Lowes and Home Depot which almost killed all my plants.

I would find a pretty flower and put short phlox, or delphinium, or bleeding hearts or bachelor buttons in a container in the spring not realizing the flowers would soon go away and then add nothing to the small space requiring plants with maximum impact.  Read the labels for flowering season, zone and if for sun or shade.

After buying some new containers, plants I knew would do well, and new soil, I planted them and almost killed them because I didn’t moisten the soil and it takes an awful lot of water to wet dry soil.  Spend a few minutes with the hose and then stick your finger in the soil to see how moist it is.  Now I water the soil as I put it in the pots to ensure it is moist all the way through.

My second year, I wanted more and more so I realized I needed to buy containers at least 14″ wide and deep.  What I hadn’t learned yet was that when you have large containers, you need larger plants and that low growing sedum would just look silly in a 20″ round pot.  My favorites for height in containers is mandevilla, salvia, dahlias, geraniums, zinnias, elephant ears or caladiums, heliopsis lorraine, lavender, daylilies, and shrub roses.

I also realized that any space needs a variation in height so I experimented with vines and found little trellises that go in the back of a container to help morning glories grow up to the top of the deck rail or mandevilla vines or thunbergia.

Note:  My goals is to start doing a series on gardening.  This is a draft of my first attempt.  Be kind.  Be patient and this will get better 🙂