How Does Your Garden Grow?

Rock wall in Grabell Garden

Rock wall in Grabell Garden

Louise Grabell

Fall is fabulous! October brings us warm sunshiny days and cooler nights. Give your AC system a rest, open the windows and breathe some fresh air. Fall is the time to finish those garden projects that you left by the wayside when the temperature was 100 degrees forever! I will be doing a bit of re-designing, from garden layout to adding rock walls and rock pathways. I love rocks! I collect rocks. I used to live on Rock Hill Road. Rocks are natural and colorful. They provide an excellent framework for my garden. Cactus and succulents look at home in a rock garden. And my flowering plants love to flow over the edge of their rocky boundary.

Fall is the time to think about adding chrysanthemums to your landscape—particularly in containers. October is the month to find the greatest variety of these fall-bloomers. I can remember driving to the pumpkin farm (there’s a big one in Marana) and buying the best pumpkin in the field and several pots of chrysanthemums to keep the pumpkin company in front of my house. The apple cider was good, too! The best thing about mums is that they grow nicely here in the high desert garden. I’ve had one mum plant for at least eight years. So go and find some beautiful chrysanthemums and make your house look inviting for the holidays ahead. And when they pass their peak and finish blossoming, find a place in your garden for them to over-winter.

Mums don’t mind the cold and even if they die back to the ground, you may be very pleasantly surprised next spring.

Mums require regular irrigation and fertilization during the spring/summer/fall growing season. They will outperform many perennials by re-blooming for you if you cut off the spent blooms which will appear early next summer. Just snip off the dried dead-heads and within a month, new blossoms buds will appear.

The best mums for outdoor growing are the ones with smaller flowers. These are the mounding type of mum and will grow into a nice clump. Mums with giant flowers and the spider type are never cultivated for outdoor life and may not grow in your garden. Stick to the daisy and pom-pom varieties. Once you have gotten successful growth in your garden, feel free to divide your mum clumps in half with a really firm step on a shovel (spade) and start them over in the garden or in a container. And even when not flowering, chrysanthemum plants stay green until frost sets them into dormancy for the winter.

Remember: Nothing brings more tranquility to the heart than a beautiful garden.