In the Garden
Caring for perennials this winter
In fall, gardeners often start thinking about perennials either because they want to add additional plants to their gardens or because they need to take at least some of them out of their garden beds.
Perennials are plants that don’t die after one season but continue to live year after year. The category actually includes trees, shrubs, lawns, hardy bulbs, some vegetables and houseplants, and a large number of plants that are grown for their ornamental flowers or foliage.
Usually I wait until early December to buy and plant bulbs. Well, in the interest of honesty, I should admit that I don’t actually wait. Usually it’s December before I get around to buying and putting in bulbs.
I plant tulips. I think they’re beautiful, and I think they’re well suited to me in part because I really dislike looking at the dying foliage after the bloom fades. Since I don’t try to make tulips go more than one year, I’m free to take them out when I start hating the way they look.
Fall is the ideal time to plant a new tree. The right tree planted in the right place on your property can give you years of pleasure and enhance your property’s value should you decide to sell your home. The key is to make sure you choose the right tree for the place you want to plant.
“Begin with a site analysis,” says Henrico Extension Agent Lisa Sanderson. “The principles are much the same for any landscape design project.”
With the arrival of fall, days will soon be getting noticeably shorter and nighttime temperatures will begin to fall.
Now, as your trees begin responding to the changing conditions, you can take a number of proactive steps to care for them and help ensure they will be healthy and beautiful for years to come.
Fall is the time to plant perennials including herbs. Because some favorites like basil and parsley are annuals planted in the spring, it’s easy to forget that many herbs can be planted in the fall and enjoyed until Thanksgiving, or if the weather is mild like last year, all winter long. And herbs can always be planted in pots and brought inside.
“Now is a very good time to get perennial herbs in the ground,” says Nicole Schermerhorn, co-owner of A Thyme to Plant at Lavender Fields Herb Farm. “It’s cool enough that you want to be outside working in your garden, but still warm enough for the herbs.”
Have you ever wondered if you would enjoy being a master gardener? If you are interested in learning about horticulture and teaching it to others, you may want to consider applying for the program.
Applications for the next class of Master Gardeners in Henrico County are being accepted now. Training begins in January.
The class is limited to 24 participants, and the cost is $135. A personal interview is required as part of the admissions process.
Let’s be honest. Sometimes gardening can be a pain – in your knees, your shoulders, your neck and your back. But gardening doesn’t have to be such a painful experience if you plan ahead and do a few simple things to take care of yourself while you work.
First, think about when you plan to work outside. You’ll want to work during the time of day when you feel best.
Harvesting vegetables out of your own garden is very satisfying. Vegetables you grow yourself just seem to taste better, and it’s particularly nice to know they also help reduce the grocery bill.
You can continue to enjoy home-grown vegetables until first frost or, in some cases, until several weeks after the first freeze if you begin putting a fall vegetable garden in now.
Take a look at your lawn and think about next spring. If you want a healthy, beautiful green lawn next spring, you need to start planning for it soon. The next several weeks are the time to take a soil test, develop a liming and fertilizer plan, and learn more about seeding and weed control.
By September it’s time to begin renovating existing cool-season turfgrass lawns or establishing new ones.
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