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Potpourri for November

My how quickly this year has sped by, almost as if we were in a time warp. Thanksgiving is upon us on November 28th, let the holiday seasons begin. One thing we need to remind ourselves and be thankful for is our good fortune in living in America. Politically we all have our differences and preferences, but we can all coalesce around our patriotic oneness as Americans. My grandmother always said that in a diverse group settings, do not speak of religion or politics, but mostly about the weather. However, in todays' thinking even that can be controversial with "climate change". But, I have an even better topic of conversation around the Thanksgiving table, and that is gardening. So, let's speak to gardening during the fall month of November.

Many people want to grow tulips in our area, but say they do not do well. That statement is not true, because what they mean is that " tulips do not come back". Tulips thrive in much cooler climes, usually zone 7 and below. such as Tennessee. The bulbs need cold winters to reliably bloom year after year and this is the reason we have to refrigerate the bulbs before planting. They must have this chill of at least 6-8 weeks in order to bloom on a tall stem. Otherwise, the bloom head comes right out at ground level. Also if you want to go to the trouble of planting them and want to save them for the next year do the following:

1. Let the foliage die down after blooming

2. Dig them up and place in a brown paper bag with a layer of sand at the bottom. The sand keeps bulbs dry in our humid climate.

3. Store them over the summer, dusting them with Sevin insecticide to prevent garden pests.

4. Then around November, place them in the crisper of your refrigerator for 6-8 weeks before planting. Now we have beautiful tulips in the spring that did not cost you a dime.

Another Idea, is to plant a couple of swaths in the garden, maybe 30 bulbs, or plant them in pots for a spectacular effect. In selecting the bulbs, purchase the largest ones you can find.

One design idea we have used in the past, is termed "over planting". The technique involves planting a shorter plant and then one inserts a taller plant within the flower drift. This month we can plant bulbs, like daffodils, (any bulb that needs no refrigeration) at the same time as we plant the shorter flowers. As the lower growing flower matures and spreads, then the bulbs up through them Wow, and one has almost a 3 dimensional look.

As I have written before, this is a good time to sow seed for next spring. Larkspur, cleome, old fashioned poppies, marigolds, California poppies, holly hock, and herbs such as parsley and cilantro. Both of these herbs tolerate cold weather. November's cooler days makes many garden tasks a pleasure.

Cleaning out the beds of debris such as the perennials which need to be cut back, and those annuals which are dying or dead. This organic plant material is good to place in a humus pile along with other leaves, etc. Just be sure to not place diseased plants in the pile.

Plant of the month--Beautyberry-Callacarpa Americana

What a beautiful, showy shrub which brings forth fuchsia and purple berries in the fall. These berries bloom after the leaves drop, and are much loved by birds, deer and other wildlife. The shrub grows to a height of 6 feet, and requires very little maintenance. Once cut, they make a great addition to any flower arrangement. I have actually seen Beautyberry incorporated in the flower garden, where it is usually used as a back drop shrub, There is also a white variety of Beautyberry named Lactea. You may be able to obtain this plant at nurseries specializing in heirloom plants.



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