November brings football games, cooler weather, colorful mums, fall foliage and Thanksgiving. What a happy time of the year where we can enjoy the great outdoors by taking long walks, getting our hands dirty while tending to the garden chores, and enjoying fellowship with family and friends around the Thanksgiving table. Also have fun creating a Thanksgiving tablescape with colorful leaves either real or garlands of fake leaves found in the retail stores. If your pumpkins are still viable, use these, by all means, and also the lumpy, bumpy gourds.
Back to the garden scene, this time of the year is ideal for adding perennials to the beds since they will have all winter to develop a sturdy root system for bigger and better plants in the spring and summer. If there are shrubs and trees that need to be planted, fall is the ideal time to plant them. Fruit trees, such as pears and plums, which are not pH sensitive, thrive when planted now. Apple and peach trees need a more acid environment, which is why I built up beds with railroad ties and added sandy loam soil. Remember to spray these fruit trees with the proper chemical sprays after the first hard freeze. Spraying cuts out fungus, mildew, fire blight, white flies, and other pests that interfere with fruit production.
Because the night-time temperatures drop this time of year, geraniums, petunias and other cool weather annuals and perennials take on a new life. For this reason, I continue to fertilize with a liquid fertilizer this month and in November for optimal bloom. If you have annuals that are on their last leg, go ahead and pull these out. As far as spent blooms on perennials, time to cut these plants back to about 3 inches from soil level. October is also the ideal time to sow poppy seed, zinnia seed and also cleome seed. Scratch the soil with a rake and scatter the seed in the designated area. Do not put mulch on these areas as it could prevent the seed from germinating in the spring.
PLANT OF THE MONTH-ABELIA
These are popular garden shrubs, which bloom from spring through fall. Native to Eastern Asia and Mexico, there are varieties, which are both deciduous (colder climate plants) and evergreen (warmer climate plants). Abelia grows best in soils with a pH of 5.0- 7.5, which includes the clay soils found in our area. Many landscapers will substitute Abelia for Azaleas, which prefer an acid soil. They are covered during their long bloom cycle with clusters of pink and white tubular flowers. Some varieties have a jasmine- like scent. They would prefer full sun but do well also in partial shade. Many other uses besides as a flowering shrub would include use as a hedge. With pink and white profusion of blooms from Spring to Fall, it is an arresting sight. One of my favorites is a variety named 'Edward Gloucher,' which is very low maintenance. Depending on the variety, Abelia can range in height 6-10 feet and spread out 6 feet. Also, they are not known to have invasive properties, so they stay put and mind their own business. Another use for the dwarf varieties would be foundation plantings. This fall plant Abelia in your garden.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING AND GOOD GARDENING.