I’m sitting here on Oct. 7 looking out my office window eastward towards Peacham Pond. Although the foliage was slow to start this season, it is absolutely beautiful right now with a light haze floating by my window below a clear, blue sky above.
As I write this, today’s temps will rise into the 70s and then this great weather will continue for another week. The weather has prompted call after call from gardeners asking, “Is it too late to plant?” That’s a fair question, especially considering this year’s heat, the dry, dry, dry weather until July when we received 8 inches of rain during the month here and when southern Vermont received 18 inches. Some contrast!
Fall is the very best time to plant trees, shrubs, and perennials. To most gardeners, especially less experienced gardeners, planting in the fall seems in conflict with spring planting when ephemerals are showing growth and color and we are encouraged to add new plants. Generally speaking, until the ground temperature falls below 56°. planting can continue in autumn and the results will be noteworthy. The key is to do all the right things as always, like dig oversized holes, remove errant roots, rocks, debris, and then amend with a good organic mix. Do not use peat moss as it has no nutritional value and it will never absorb water once buried so it will kill plant roots over time instead of encouraging them. And the final fall reminder is to avoid any fertilizers. If fertilizers are used in the fall, they will encourage root development but the roots will not have time to harden off before the ground temperatures drop below that 56°level.
We have had a terrific year at the farm again this summer and as such the availability of peonies and hydrangeas are limited. At the start of the planting season, we had some of Vermont’s largest collections to choose from but now we are down to a couple dozen of each plant. This summer we sold several large assortments to homes at Harvey’s Lake where owners were establishing rows to mark property boundaries. Many of these included the extra-large flowered Annabelle which is a real standout when used like this. Yesterday I received an order for a home in Ferrisburg, again for Hydrangea Annabelle in significant numbers for planting against a split rail fence. I mention this example because our inventory can change quickly when homeowners proceed with this type project and ask for 20-25 pots of a variety at a time. If you have something in mind, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can add you to our list.
During the past couple of years, our offering of daylilies has increased significantly. This past week we finalized a new display area at the end of the largest hosta shade house where we will amass all our tall daylilies, four-foot-tall scapes, and taller. We also have created a place for late-blooming daylilies where any daylily that blooms from Labor Day on will be displayed. This should make it easier to review the plants by size and color and decide if any are good for you. Over the years we have encouraged folks to consider adding “vertical” to their gardens because it offers the perspective of larger gardens and makes bloom time seem to last longer. This display will be completed in a couple of weeks and we hope it helps with your decisions.
Although we are not that far away from cooler weather, gardeners reported great pride in their gardens this past summer. Many people bring us photos of their projects and Gail is often asked for advice on plant additions that will keep existing gardens looking colorful longer. Our job is to offer suggestions and keep your pride growing. Thanks for being great gardeners!