The weather has turned cooler in the last couple of weeks, and the days are now almost as long as our nights. From now until the end of December, every day will be about three minutes shorter. Plants start to give away their green color and their leaves increasingly reward us with brilliant colors. The products of photosynthesis are absorbed down into the roots as the plants store their carbohydrates for the winter. This is also why it is a good time to plant trees. There is still time until the ground freezes, and this will allow trees to establish their roots before dormancy.
The perennial garden will benefit from a covering of mulch, especially around plants that tend to heave from the freeze-and-thaw cycle, such as ferns, heucheras and geraniums. Seed heads and grasses add winter interest to the border under the cover of snow and also provide food and shelter for wildlife. All other dying foliage, such as that of hostas and peonies should be removed and added to the compost pile.
Phalaenopsis orchids with Crassula argentea
A group of orchids happily spent the summer in my front porch. The weather in Pittsburgh turned rainy and cooler two weeks ago. I was late bringing this beauties indoors. They need time to adjust to the indoor air before we turn the heat on. I favor placing plant in groupings. They create their own climate when together and a tray with fine pebbles in the bottom of the basket allows for much needed humidity.
Just when the season of gardening is coming to an end, the opportunity is here for the planning of next year plantings. Now we can evaluate what worked, which plants were placed in their ideal location for optimum performance, or in some cases, the realization that some plants will have to be moved. Many perennials will need to be divided like crowded Bearded Irises that can be lifted now, separated and relocated. Spring blooming bulbs should go in this fall to allow the roots to get established. Keep after those weeds and do not allow them to bloom and set seed for next year! You will save yourself a lot of work in the spring. In the picture bellow, Rudbeckia or Coneflower, has just about finished blooming, I like to leave the seed heads for winter interest. The Goldfinches love to perch on the stem and feed on the seeds. Here Rudbeckia was under planted with Aster amelus. At it’s feet, a young Ceratostigma plumbaginoides.