GARDENING DIVA: Cooler Days on the Horizon
BY FRANCES GROSSMAN
There is an open field close to our home that seems to be a ‘rest stop’ of sorts for the geese before they head south. At this time of year, we can hear them fly out every morning. They head out everyday at the same time for their daily gallivants; I don’t know where they go and sometimes wonder what they do all day long. Yet, like clockwork, Larry and I can count on their return flight to the field every fall evening. Their arrival and departure is an autumn tradition that we’ve come to look forward to and even find comfort in. It’s a sheer delight to be outdoors with the dogs or enjoying dinner on the patio and hear their anticipated approach.
In truth we’re experiencing our final days of summer 2012. Those who found the extreme summer heat to be a thrill may be sad to say goodbye to the long days on the pool deck. Others who prefer slightly lower summer temps may be delighted in the change of season and reprieve from the hot and dry conditions. Regardless, the cooler mornings are inevitably approaching. The landscape is beginning to change and take on its own visual changes. Relief from the constant watering has come and enjoyment through the every changing season is here and now…
Moving from summer and the challenges it presented to our gardens this year into the glorious new season of Autumn, there are very important ‘to dos’ our gardens are begging for and will really benefit from now instead of waiting until next spring!
Decorate with a cool fall flair whether in your gardens or your containers! The front of your home is the first peek into what awaits when friends enter your home. Make a great first impression with fall flowers (mums, flowering cabbage & kale, pansies, sunscape daisies, etc) give terrific pops of crisp autumn color. These flowers intensify their colors as the evenings become cooler providing sharp and vivid color thru the light frosts of fall. Add cornstalks, straw bales, gourds, pumpkins and fall wreaths that will carry on their autumn feel through Thanksgiving.
Fall is a great time to plant in your garden. You’ve had the benefit of seeing what’s been growing through the spring and summer in your garden. Go ahead and plant a few fabulous fall bloomers to keep things fresh and colorful!
Our lawns – desperately need some TLC from the hot summer heat. Fall is the best time to re-seed and repair. The cooler temperatures make for easy and quick germinating. Fertilizing your lawn is also important right now as it comes out of the hot summer. All fertilizers have specific numbers on the bag:
1. First number = Nitrogen or the ‘top’ growth.
2. The other number = Potassium for overall plant growth and nourishment.
Choose a fertilizer with a lower first number (nitrogen) for a more gentle feed. At this time of year, we want to help your plants focus on a strengthening their roots and overall growth from the stress of our summer. We also want to encourage nice steady root growth to prepare for winter rather than pushing a lot of top green growth when the snow will be sitting on top of it soon!
Your garden needs food! Your plants are just like you. After ‘working like a dog’ through the heat and tough conditions, your body is looking for nourishment. Your plants feel the same way; they’ll green up and bounce back with TLC.
Feed your gardens in the spring & fall. Use the full amount based on the recommendation of the bag in the spring and then one half the amount on the fall. Just like your lawn, we want to give the plant roots a nice steady feed but not push a lot of top growth as we approach winter. That’s it – spring and fall feeding for all your plants!
Embrace the changing seasons. Love your home and garden with wild abandon and make the exciting leap into the next season by showing it with your gardens and entryway. You’ll be rewarded with fresh rejuvenation and a warm welcome every time you return home. There is no place like home…
Frances Grossman is the president of Grossmans Garden & Home in Penfield, NY. www.grossmans.com. 585-377-1982. Meet other savvy women, just like you! Visit Grossmans Garden & Home on Facebook