The people's voice of reason

Potpourri for September

The month of September usually brings in cooler temperatures and colorful falling leaves from Sumac, Popcorn, Catalpa, Oak, and Crepe Myrtle, to name a few. Also on center stage are the football rivalries demonstrated by flags showing the emblems of elephants and eagles seen frequently throughout Alabama and hearing the schools' fight songs blasting through radios. Fall Garden seminars are a fun way to spend a weekend with like minded gardeners and an excellent one is a Landscape Conference in Winston-Salem, N.C. This biennial conference has been educating the public since 1979, and will be held September 26-28, 2019 with nationally acclaimed speakers. If you are interested, go to the website, Participating in any gardening seminar, whether local or out of state, always gives one greater knowledge of the landscape and just a fun way of mingling with like minded gardeners.

Now let's look to home and our fall gardens. Some gardeners take pictures of their garden in full bloom, put these in a gardening album with comments about the light, soil, water conditions. The photos demonstrate color schemes made up of different flowers with notes on the varieties and whether grown from seed, plants purchased or plants which were given by a generous gardening friend. This album can also cite any failures, and the reasons for these failures. Just think how much fun it would be to create this personal garden history, after all, today people spend time posting their photos to face book.

I have come to really appreciate the self-sowers in my garden. Not only can this save money, but they guarantee the same flowers every time. Otherwise, a particular color of cleome may not be readily available. Use flowers that are not hybrids, as they are sterile and the seed will not germinate. Note that heavy mulching will block the germination of the seed in the spring. Otherwise if mulch must be used, allow these flowers to go to seed, collect, and keep in a dark dry environment. I use fruit jars with a little sand at the bottom to act as a desiccant and keep in a little used cabinet. Be sure to label the jars with the name of the flower, the specific color or mixed, and the date. The main idea is to keep the seed dry so mold or mildew will not be present. Great self sowers for zone 8, are: old fashioned poppies, cleome, zinnias, cosmos, larkspur, celosia, coreopsis, gomphrena, and four o'clocks, Should some of the seed spring up in unwanted areas, just weed them out.


Most of us have grown fennel as a culinary herb which is the common or sweet fennel, foenoculum vulgare. In times past, this herb was touted as having the ability to restore eyesight, stop hiccups, and ward off witches. Also Florence fennel is cultivated as a vegetable for its bulb. Thomas Jefferson grew this variety and wrote that he preferred Florence fennel "to every other vegetable or to any fruit." Then there are the copper fennels which have bronze-hued foliage and grown as an ornamental. Each of these varieties have anise like scent and flavor. Fennel is a perennial and very easy to grow. It prefers full sun, and can tolerate slightly acid and slightly alkaline soils. However, the soil must be well drained. They require very little care, have few insect problems, and will spread up to 3 feet. Also, the ornamental fennel, 'Rubrum', adds not only the bronze color mentioned above, but adds some height and texture to the beds.



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