When choosing a tree for your landscape, what attributes appeal to you most? Overall size and shape, growth rate, or maybe fall color? Those are all important considerations for sure, but what is often the most overlooked attribute happens to be my favorite – bark.
When it comes to spring-flowering bulbs, the stars of the show are daffodils, tulips, crocuses, and hyacinths. But the supporting cast of players, although less familiar, are no less beautiful and deserve a spot in every garden. So when shopping for bulbs this month, you owe it to yourself to consider the following, all of which are easy to grow and come back year after year.
Every year for the past 30 years or more, I’ve tried to convince my friends and fellow gardeners that now is the perfect time to plant all kinds of things. So here I go again. But to be clear, I’m not talking about things that most folks know to plant in fall – mums, pansies, asters, ornamental kale and cabbage, cool-season veggies, fescue and rye grasses, spring-flowering bulbs – the stuff that practically defines fall planting. I’m talking about practically everything else, in particular trees, shrubs, and perennials.
No other plant on the planet gives you more bang for your buck than a single, solitary, spring-flowering bulb, be it a daffodil or a hyacinth or a crocus or whatever. (Yes, I intentionally excluded tulips for the moment – more on them later.)Think about it: in most cases you shell out less than a buck for a gorgeous flower that will return year after year for decades. And in that time all the plant requires is an occasional drink and a light snack.
Fescue is originally from Europe. It didn’t actually arrive in this country until the mid-19th century, but it’s been happy here ever since, first as a pasture grass and later as a turf grass in lawns across America, including Alaska and Hawaii. It’s even planted on the South Lawn of the White House. And here in Green Country, fescue is the go-to turf for shady spots, where it thrives with a little fertilizer and regular watering.
Carrie and I bought our first home in 1979, and before we’d unpacked all the moving boxes I was busy preparing my first vegetable garden. Step one involved removing (by hand) roughly 400 square feet of Bermuda grass, which took two weekends. Step two involved rototilling the entire area. Problem was, I didn’t own a rototiller. Nor did I have a way to transport one.
The window between the end of summer and the beginning of fall is the perfect time to fertilize deciduous plants and turf grasses. And the reason is simple: Providing nutrients that have been depleted during the growing season will enable plants to enter the winter months with the food reserves they need to stay healthy and begin robust growth in spring.
August is ordinarily so hot and dry that I discourage people from planting certain things, in particular large trees and shrubs as well as conifers. But given the current weather pattern we’re in – and the long-range forecast for the rest of the month -- I wouldn’t hesitate to plant anything and everything, including large trees and shrubs and yes, even conifers.