We have always heard in politics of an "October surprise". What can we come up with for a surprise on the garden scene? Whether you have a public garden, which I name as flower beds which can viewed by the public, or a private garden secluded behind a wall or privacy fence, there is always something we can do to gain this notoriety. Some ideas which gardeners have used that are somewhat whimsical and out of the ordinary are as follows:
1. Use hay bales in the back of the bed to raise up a group of pumpkins.
2. Place plastic pink flamingos tucked here and there.
3. Use spot light or lights with colored bulbs for an unusual night time display.
4. Hang bells or wind chimes.
Because I make an annual plan for my beds, which I tweak often since flowers may have an early demise, I know in advance what I need for my fall beds. This year I have many areas that need a burst of color for the fall, so I am searching for mums which add instant color and are great fillers. My yellow lantana are bursting with blooms, the dusty miller had been trimmed back last month and are still very much adding silvery, gray swaths, the petunias are now spent, so bronze and gold mums with perhaps a couple of dark red should fill the bill. And voila, I have a full fledged and colorful fall bed.
Fall is an ideal time to purchase and plant new shrubs and trees. With the cooler temperatures and plenty of rain, the plants get off to a great start. When planting the shrub or tree, be sure to dig the hole bigger and deeper that the roots. Try to keep as much dirt that surrounds the root ball whether burlap or a black plastic pot as possible. After placing the plant in the hole, back fill with good dirt, and tamp the dirt down with your foot to get rid of any air pockets. Then you should fertilize and water the plant. If there is no rain, water about one time per week for about a month.
PLANT OF THE MONTH
Many in the South forget about an old fashioned flowering shrub, Weigela 'florida'. It blooms profusely in the spring with beautiful funnel shaped flowers which range in color from pink to red to white, This shrub has many varieties as short as 2-3 feet tall ('Minuet') to some as tall as 6 feet in height ('Red Prince and 'Candida'). Weigela grows quickly in full sun or part shade and is deciduous. There is also a variegated variety aptly named, 'Variegata'. I have seen hedges of this shrub which are as showy as any azalea grouping anywhere. They bloom on last season's shoots, and one must prune this shrub right after the blooms have died. These new shoots will provide a flurry of new blooms in the spring.