Pumpkins abound, colorful leaves sail to the ground, county fairs come to town with Farris wheels that turn round and round. There is a definite deep fresh coolness that pervades the early mornings and a marked clarity in the sky in November. The humidity and heat have lifted and I am energized to finish gardening tasks that I have been remiss in completing. My first priority will be to set up a daily schedule to plan, shop for new plants for late fall and winter, and to execute. Sometimes I overlook plant catalogs in my haste to get finished, but I will just add this task to my daily schedule. These catalogs are wonderful snapshots of tried and true flowers, and show new selections which have passed field trials. My problem is that I want to try them all.
How many times have I written on this topic of spraying your lawns, shrubs, vines, fences, walls and trees with a winter dormant oil? Too many to remember, so I will repeat myself another year. To rid your yard of many pests which include fleas, white flies, and even roaches, follow these instructions. First wait until after the first hard freeze, when leaves on flowers are wilted. Purchase a winter dormant oil, such as Volk Oil and Lime Sulfur. The Lime sulfur prevents and kills mold and types of fungus, such as black spot on roses. Purchase a hose end sprayer which is available at most garden centers or nurseries that is capable to spraying at least 20 feet. Read the dilution rates for both per gallon, and if you desire to apply 10 gallons then multiply the gallon rate by 10 and add to the receptacle. If you are unsure of how to use the sprayer, ask the merchant for help as there are several types of sprayers on the market. Attach the hose, and begin spraying. Lime Sulfur has a very unpleasant odor, something on the order of rotten eggs but I use them together because I have no desire to spray the back and front of my yard twice. Incidentally, the sulfur smell dissipates within 12 or so hours. It is a little inconvenience that is well worth the trouble.
I plan to use an old technique that the Europeans have been enjoying for centuries--over planting. One of the easiest planting schemes for this affect is pansies or dianthus and tulips. Buy big tulip bulbs, refrigerate for 6 weeks and plant them
between the pansies or dianthus. Either the tulips should be all one color with perhaps mixed color pansies, or vice versa. If one had both tulips and pansies of multi-colors, the affect would be confusing. The height of the tulips over the blanket of pansies or dianthus is the secret. Since tulips are expensive, and will not come back for us in Alabama, one can plant a small area of the bed or plant the combination in containers. Another attractive combination is to use Parsley as the under planting with tall snaps giving the height. Let your imagination be your guide.
Late October through the end of November is the best time to sow seed for spring bloom. Get out the old fashion Poppies, Larkspur, and Holly Hock seed you have saved from last spring and plan for a sunny spot in your garden. Mark off the area with paint and/or note this area on your plan and do not over plant nor mulch. After scratching the bare soil with a rake, sow the Larkspur and Holly Hock. Because poppies have prolific germination, you must mix only about 1/8 teaspoon of poppy seed with a quart of sand and then sow. One fall I did not have sand at hand, so cut the seed with sugar. Please heed my warning on using a tiny bit of poppy seed, or you will be weeding out poppy seedlings forever.
PLANT OF THE MONTH
Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) is a native deciduous shrub which rises 5-6 feet tall and the same width. This shrub is hardy, performs well in poor soil such as ours in Montgomery and does well in the garden setting. The rich rose-purple berries which seem stuck to the branches surrounded by light green leaves are an arresting sight. Great for flower arrangements and in the wild, serves as a source of food for wildlife. One can find these shrubs growing at the edge of woodlands. A white-berried selection of the Beautyberry is called Lactea.
GOOD GARDENING AND HAPPY THANKSGIVING.