How does Your Garden Grow?

Louise Grabell

Although there is lots of beautiful weather ahead, fall is upon us and it’s time to make those adjustments to your flowering beds you’ve been thinking about all summer. I gave up thinking about it and started a little notebook with all my ideas for the improvements I want to make. Most of your summer annuals will soon be done so it’s time to clean out those beds—and containers. My focus has been about moving some of my perennials. Many have multiplied and need to be split (and shared) and some are in the wrong place.

Fall is a great time to consider planting new perennials. There is plenty of time for them to develop good roots before the winter sets in. Many perennials do very well in our location, a few, like bearded iris and daylily, don’t need lots of water. You might even find some bargains at the local nurseries where perennials are past their prime with respect to flowers, yet still perfectly healthy. Some really good perennials for our region include: echinacea (purple cone flower), mounding asters, dianthus, penstemon, local columbine (yellow flowers), scabiosa (pincushion flower), Lily-of-the-Nile, chrysanthemum, blue salvia and the aforementioned bearded iris and daylily. If you’ve seen something you like in your neighbor’s yard, don’t be shy—ask for a sample for yourself!

Most gardeners will be thrilled to share and so glad you noticed what they were growing!

A garden spade is all you need to obtain a small portion of the perennial clump from which you desire a sample. Once dug out, run back to your yard and plant this new garden beauty in a hole that you have already prepared and keep it moist daily or mulch it well so that it won’t dry out. September still has very warm days, so I would recommend regular watering for at least two weeks, allowing new roots to grow.

Bearded iris grows from a rather large rhizome and all you need is one of these (which resembles a small white yam) which you will plant about two inches below the surface. Once new leaves start to appear (in a week or two), watering daily will not be necessary. If you receive a gift of a bearded iris, cut back the leaves into a small fan of about six inches in height before planting in a shallow hole. Irises multiply quickly, so provide enough space and since they grow tall, relegate them to the rear of your garden rather than a front border.

Newly planted perennials should be placed in garden soil with good drainage. Don’t worry about fertilizing now. You just want to encourage root growth, not shoot growth. Save the fertilizer for the spring. The most wonderful thing about perennials is that they return year after year, rewarding you with glorious blooms based on very little effort. And if you choose them carefully, you can have blossoms from spring until fall.

Remember, nothing brings more tranquility to the heart than a beautiful garden.