Between trying to enjoy these last glorious days of summer and going back to school and work, that short walk to the garden just seems to be getting longer and longer.
By Chris Cohan
Between trying to enjoy these last glorious days of summer and going back to school and work, that short walk to the garden just seems to be getting longer and longer. But putting it off only makes the work grow larger. Don’t think — water, weed, and prune.
Clean, sharpen, and oil your hand pruners, put on a sunhat, SPF 45 suntan lotion, and go to work. Regular deadheading keeps plants flowering and vigorous. Weeding keeps the garden tidy, reduces pests, accentuates your plants, and replenishes mulch piles.
Water, water, and water some more to help vegetables and plants avoid stress. Hoe regularly to keep down weeds. Sow more radishes, bush beans, and spinach. Go ahead and give everything a shot of liquid fertilizer like Peter’s or Miracle-Gro. Turn the mulch pile and work some of that wormy black soil around your vegetables. Pinch and use all herbs to keep them bushy. Extras should be allowed to dry and store for winter. Thin fruit trees of suckers and weak growth.
Tomatoes have disobeyed the confines of their support hoops. They grew hither and yon, making entrance to the garden difficult and picking into a contortionist task. Strengthen and add new support for those runaway red orbs, and remove and dispose of yellowed leaves and branches. You fought off disease, pests, and bad weather for fresh tomatoes. Finally, your reward is in hand. It is time to savor those homegrown beauties.
Deadhead perennials and roses. If you clipped your spireas earlier, they should be blooming again now. Divide irises and cut leaves in a fan shape. Keep training morning glories around columns, telephone poles, or fences to maintain bushy flowering masses. They will flower till the first frost, then turn a sad shade of brown.
Prune hollies, yews, heathers, and all hedges to desired shapes. Privet hedges need to be pruned almost monthly in the growing season. Just ask Bruce Miller who lives on Oakland Beach Avenue. His hedge pruning skills rival any seasoned English gardener’s care. Trim phlox and peonies down past any mildewed leaves.
Continually remove spent butterfly bush flowers to ensure flowering till frost. If the plants are top-heavy, feel free to radically reduce size. The plant may pause but will rebound with new flowers. Japanese anemones are known as windflowers because they sway gracefully in the early fall breeze. A little loose staking will keep them from toppling over. Leave sunflower heads for birds to eat; fallen seed will ensure a robust crop next year.
Spring Flowering Bulbs
Time to place your fall bulb order. Daffodils and bluebells are musts; they bloom at different times, multiply and are deer resistant. Tulips are oh so enticing. Regardless of their fleeting nature you just have to have some. Alliums are bulbs on steroids; imposing, quirky, long lasting, they are purple balls that appear to hover over the garden.
Allium giganteum is the biggest. There are several other equally impressive varieties. The rounded flower head, called an umbel, is covered with many tiny purple flowers. These are really giant onions. They are hardy and enjoy well-drained soil in full sun. Alliums are tall and their foliage is not their best feature, so place in back or center of the border. Plant them in groups of three or more for dramatic effect.
Your lush green lawn may be looking sad. Don’t fret, the turf is taking a well-deserved Indian summer siesta. When the cool wet weather returns it will green up again. There is an old Rye saying which I think Diane Ball told me: “Once the Garnets beat the Huskies, it is time to fertilize your lawn.”