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October is here and a shift in the garden has started. We are starting to see the plants in the garden slowly change as they get ready for the cooler temperatures ahead. The vegetable garden is slowing down and some of our trees and shrubs are changing into their fall coats. Fall is a time for shutting down for this year, but it is also a time for gearing up for next season. This week we have four stories that will help you get ready for the spring of 2021. From Fall Perennial stories to understanding the numbers on a fertilizer bag. We are starting to help you get a jump on the spring garden.
This week we featured...
Second Season Color
If you are like a lot of people, your purchases at the garden center in the spring can be massive. The colors are so enticing after the long cold winter you can't help yourself. However, once you reach the end of the summer and into the fall, those bright colors are either gone or faded. Time to think about adding some late season color and texture to the garden. We call it the second season! We stopped by Portland Nursery
(503-231-5050) on Stark Street to talk with the color buyer, Sandra, about some great late summer/early fall interest plants. Not all of these are late season bloomers, but we think you will agree that they deserve a spot in the garden.
We started with asters. These are the standout performers for the fall garden. They are wonderful mounds covered in wonderful blooms and they love the full sun. Another full sun lover is the hibiscus. The one
we saw was Summerific 'Evening Rose'. These huge deep pink blooms on top of the dark colored foliage are a good accent to the brighter blooms in the garden. Hibiscus also come in other colors, but most of these late summer varieties have the huge blooms! Another tall perennial in the garden is the Anemone. 'Lucky Charm' was typical for this type of plant with tall flower stalks pushing past the lower growing foliage. They look great when a breeze gently blows the foliage around. Another excellent fall bloomer for the shade is the Toad Lily (Tricyrtis). These tend to be a smaller plant in your garden, but the blooms are so unique that they are a must have. We saw two varieties, 'Samurai' and 'Migazaki', with their cool, almost orchid-like blooms. The next two plants were ones that don't show off with their blooms in the fall, but with their foliage. These were hellebores. The first one 'Snow Fever' with some spectacular mottled, cream-colored foliage, was outstanding. That was followed by the much smaller 'Silver Veil' with its own delicate leaf patterns. Both of these will bloom later this year or early next year, but the foliage alone was stunning. The reddish stems of Silver Veil complimented the red leaves of our next plant the 'Forever Purple' Heuchera. This heuchera has the great foliage, but also has long spiky bloom stalks earlier in the season. We finished with a another tall perennial a Crape Myrtle (yes, I had it labeled wrong on the video) 'Lunar Magic'. These are late bloomers and are better known in the south and southwest of the US. These great plants love the full sun and heat. They may take a couple years to start blooming, but they are a real attention grabber when they are in full bloom.
If you want to add some punch to your late summer/fall garden, consider a second season plant! You can find these and a lot more at Portland Nursery, either on Division or Stark.
Layering Spring Bulbs
As we enter fall we are reminded by the garden centers to plant our spring blooming bulbs. This is when you need to get those bulbs into the ground for that wonderful spring color. The ones that are most popular for the spring garden are tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and crocus. Did you know that bulbs are great in pots too! You can create waves of color by layering your spring blooming bulbs. We demonstrated that with a container full of daffodils and crocus. Of course we started with a great soil. Black Gold All Purpose is wonderful, because it is clean, with none of the nasty pests that you find with a regular garden dirt. Plus, it also has a little fertilizer in it to give your plants and bulbs a jump start. We followed the depth instructions for the bulbs from the package. First, the daffodils went in at a lower depth, then a layer of soil and then the crocus. You can place the bulbs in the pot with the pointy side up, but even if you get the bulbs in upside down, they'll figure it out. By using different layers of bulbs in a pot you can have color that lasts all spring!
What do you do with the container now, though? That is where we added a few fall color plants to create a container for these cooler months ahead. A rudbeckia went in the center of the planter for that wonderful golden fall color. That was surrounded by a few pansies and ornamental peppers to add a splash of color. So we now have a planter that will bring joy this fall and will surprise you with some wonderful spring color too!
Everyone has seen them... the numbers on the outside of a fertilizer bag. For most people they are the listing of three ingredients for each fertilizer. For those in the garden business they are called N-P-K.
These numbers represent a percentage of these 3 minerals. N = Nitrogen, P = Phosphorus and K = Potassium (K represents Potassium on the Periodic Table of Elements). The numbers listed are the percentages of each element in each bag. People often wonder what each element does to help your plants grow. There is a saying to help you remember their focus, 'Up, Down and All Around'. The first number is nitrogen and it represents 'Up' or foliar growth. That's all the green parts of the plant. When you need to green up your lawn, you pick something with a larger first number. The 'Down' represents root growth and that's the focus of phosphorus. A lot of bulb fertilizers will have this second number as a larger part of the fertilizer mix to give them a boost of root growth for stronger blooms. Some people say that we have enough phosphorus in our soils already, so if you are concerned, get a soil test to figure out what you have. The potassium is the third number and it is for 'All Around' plant health and vigor. This element is said to increase plant vigor and helps a plant fight off insect and disease damage when used correctly. A lot of gardeners use a 'triple 16' or 'triple 10' when fertilizing. These are called Balanced Fertilizers because their numbers are all the same. There are also some fertilizers that are combined with other things. A 'Weed and Feed' fertilizer is one that usually contains a broadleaf herbicide to get rid of the weeds in your lawn while it fertilizes your grass. These need to be used with caution, since, if they are broadcast into your garden beds they will kill or damage your landscape plants. Always read the label before applying.
When you do use a fertilizer you should water your lawn or plants well, then apply the fertilizer and rinse it in after application. The water will make sure that the plants are not stressed before you give them a shot of minerals. To reduce the stress even more, make sure that you don't fertilize when the day is too hot, and once again, always read the label before you apply!
Planting Fall Perennials
The fall is one of the best times to plant your new garden plants in your garden. Perennials benefit from planting now because of a lot of different reasons. To get some tips for planting we stopped by Blooming Junction (503-681-4646) and talked with Ron. The fall is a time for root growth and so any new plants that go in the ground now are focused on getting their roots established. That means you get a much bigger plant in the spring. There is a rule for perennials that they sleep first. Then they grow. That means that they are primed for next year by getting a head start now. The fall is also a time when temperatures are still pretty good. Until frost, there are a lot of really nice days. Also, fall rains do all the work on keeping your plants hydrated. Another benefit for fall planting is soil temperatures. In the spring, soils are cold and it takes a long time to get them up to temperature. This time of year the soil is warm and that helps get plants acclimated quicker.
Plants that you can consider for fall planting include pansies. Get them in now and they will burst forth in the spring. Other great plants to plant now are coreopsis, dianthus, salvias, phlox, sedums and heucheras. Get them in the ground now and you will be rewarded with great color next spring and summer. Ron also recommended that you don't fertilize now. Wait until next spring. You don't want a lot of new growth
This is also the time for getting your home ready for Halloween and the fall. Since they are a farm, Blooming Junction has all the harvest themed decorations for your home, including pumpkins, corn stalks, hay bales, and even seasonal mums. Not to mention all the great fall vegetables and other grocery items in their store. Blooming Junction has everything for fall and is worth a visit!
New Clematis Species
One of our favorite places to visit in the Portland area is the Rogerson Clematis Garden (971-777-4394) at Luscher Farm in Lake Oswego. Every time we go there we learn something new while we enjoy the beauty of the clematis blooms. This time we met with Curator Linda Beutler in the test garden. This is where they plant some of the newer test varieties to see if they can find the next great clematis plant. This time there were a couple of newer varieties that they had received from wild seed from the Southeastern US. These are new plants from a 10 year study and their temporary names are based on the areas that they are from. That's right... we don't have the new names yet. They have been chosen, but not released yet. These new plants are beautiful! They have sturdy bell shaped blooms that seem like they belong in a Disney movie! These blooms are hard to get to for most pollinators. The long bell shape is perfect for hummingbirds to get to the nectar and pollen. Even bumblebees can muscle their way into the blooms, but the European honey bee cheats by wedging into the top of the blossom to get the nectar and robs the flower of a pollinator! Linda told us that the real names will be released soon, but you can see these for yourself at the Rogerson event that is happening at the garden, today, Oct 3rd. Last night there was a members only event and a preview plant sale, but for the rest of us there is a plant sale today from 10am to 3pm. That's right membership has privileges and if you become a member you can see some of these plants a little sooner than most! So we recommend that you stop by today, check out these new plants and the others for sale, purchase a few for your home garden and then join the garden so you can be on the front edge of all the news from the garden.