First of all I must make a correction: in the August 2021 article of the photo illustrating the plant of the month, Cleome or common name “spider plant”. The photo showed an indoor plant, which is a spider plant, but not the outdoor one “cleome.” [Editor: This was a Gazette error, not the author. We apologize to all.]
With the Covid virus, it seems we have the same song but a different verse with masks, vaccines, and a lot of isolation. All the more important for all of us to become gardeners even if we are at most amateurs. I think just getting out of the house and out in the fresh air is not only a boost to one’s general mood, but the sunlight can be helpful with boosting our immune systems. I went on YouTube the other day to find gardening segments, which are really good. Many have step by step processes, for example, in building and maintaining raised beds, pruning trees and shrubs, starting a vegetable garden, propagating trees by air layering techniques, and many other subjects.
September will find us with many chores to complete if we desire our flower gardens to be spectacular in the late winter and spring. First of all, we must keep the area free of weeds, so plunge right in with trowel in hand. I make sure that the ground is moist so that most weeds can be yanked out of the ground. If you notice any grass that has crept into the beds, take immediate action and get rid of this. Grass invasion can spell a disaster for a flowerbed. Many times I have been able to spray Round-Up to this task. If there are too many flowers near the grass, take a small watercolor paint brush and apply the herbicide that was – works like a charm.
Another hint, when working in your beds this time of year, is to hold off on dead-heading annuals that would otherwise self-seed or reseed such as marigolds. However, I usually set a time, late July or early August, to dead head and prune flowers such as zinnias and Dragon Wing begonias since these get top heavy, leggy, and will just collapse in September. Pruning will allow the plant to have a spurt of new growth and bloom all during the fall until frost.
Dividing bulbs can be a chore and this is an ideal time to dig up daylilies, iris, gladiolas, hostas, and canna lilies. Separating these bulbs, and replanting them will be well worth the trouble come spring when the blooms will be bigger and better. Plus, remember your gardening friends when you have an abundance of bulbs and corms.
PLANT OF THE MONTH – Nicotiana (Solanceae)
Nicotiana is also known as flowering tobacco and is a tender perennial, which does not survive a frost. Most varieties grow to around 2-3 inches in height and the blooms are fragrant. It need regular watering, must have full or partial sun and is grown in all zones. But, beware, all parts of this plant are poisonous if ingested.
Happy Labor Day and Good Gardening!