The colourful foliage this time of year is hard to beat, one of the reasons fall is the favourite season for many. The burning bush in my neighbour’s garden is absolutely gorgeous this year.
Temperature, moisture levels and the amount of sunlight dictate just how colourful the foliage becomes. Apparently the vivid colours on the deciduous trees and my neighbour’s burning bush can be attributed to the wet growing season we had as well as the cool nights and warm days this fall. The scientific explanation involves fancy words like:
xanthophyll (yellow pigment)
carotenoids (orange pigment)
anthocyanins (red and purple pigment formed by sugar trapped in the leaves)
chlorophyll (green colour)
abscission layer (when nights get cooler, this layer forms blocking chlorophyll from entering the leaves, so other colours are visible)
Also (still) looking good are some of the containers I planted this season. We have had a few frosty nights, but nothing severe enough to slow these beauties down:
solar powered butterfly
As long as this nice weather continues I just may get all my gardens put to bed this week!
Yes, I know, I said fabulous fall. Last year I posted about how fall is not my favourite season and provided a (quite short) list of things I like about it. Well, this year I have come up with a few more things to expand my list. I grudgingly have to admit that fabulous fall does boast these advantages, over and above the gloriously colourful foliage of course. The incredible display of colour always seems to be at the top of every fall lover’s list, at least here in the north.
I love opening the windows in the house to let the breeze cool and refresh the air, but my husband and the only son left living at home prefer the AC. We have arguments every summer over canned air versus fresh air. My argument is that fresh air is free, not to mention it lacks the feel of an artic blast!
Our AC lowers our home temperature to 18 degrees (Celsius) overnight to prevent them from getting too warm when they sleep. I too like the lower temperatures to sleep, but not during the day. I absolutely hate when it’s too cold in the house in the summer. Somehow wearing a sweater in the summer (when it’s sunny and hot outside) does not feel right. As a compromise, I set the temperature to a liveable 22 degrees during the day.
So, when the nights are cooler (less than 18 degrees), I win with the open windows method of air conditioning at night. And during the day too if the temperature stays below 22 degrees.
Great gardening weather:
In my gardening business, fabulous fall probably (spring is close too) provides the most productive days. In the hot summer months I have to get started quite early in the day to avoid the overwhelming temperatures and humidity that slow me down. These (fabulous fall) days I can work longer hours, although some mornings are quite nippy so I wait until it warms up a bit.
When my children were younger I used to bake much more frequently. In fact, I used to spend hours making and decorating their birthday cakes, until they were old enough to graduate to Dairy Queen ice cream cakes.
Now that my grandchildren are old enough to help (sort of) and appreciate freshly baked goodies, I am getting reacquainted with the fine art of baking. Although my 2.5 year old grandson is a little too exuberant with the buttons on my mixer. Our last batch of blueberry and banana muffins were pretty tough, not to mention greenish in colour. Blue and yellow do make green, if you mix the colours enough (excessively). Folding the blueberries into the batter at the end was not his idea of fun.
These are my latest creations, made for my granddaughter’s 6th birthday…
My neighbour helps with the decorating ideas, she is the most talented decorator with unparalleled artistic imagination. She bakes to fundraise on National Cupcake Day supporting Sit With MeShelter Dog Rescue. Check out the link to support the cause, any time of the year. If you live in the Ottawa area and would like to sample some of her incredible creations while supporting the dogs, let me know. I will send you the link to her next event. Here are a few examples of her talent…
Incredible Deals at Garden Centers:
Fabulous fall is the best time to find great bargains on perennial plants, trees and shrubs to spruce (pun intended) up your (and mine) gardens. The deals are especially awesome at locations where their garden centers are seasonal; Canadian Tire is a great example. Some of the plants may look a little sad and bedraggled, but the beauty of perennials is that they come back bigger and better each year.
Fabulous fall is also the best time to plant or move perennials, shrubs and trees. As long as you do it NOW, (in my area) at least six weeks before the ground freezes. This will allow for the roots of whatever you are planting to settle in for the winter before they are assaulted with the looming cold weather.
Less bugs at the cottage:
The bugs (mosquitoes, black flies and horse/deer flies) seem to disappear this time of year at the cottage. They were brutal earlier, from April right through to August, making it difficult to get any work done outdoors. We can finally sit around a campfire without getting eaten alive.
Cheers to a fabulous fall, may it last a long time…
Fall is not my favourite time of year, in fact it is probably my least favourite season here in Canada. (Almost) everything in my gardens is dying off and there is a distinct chill in the air hinting at the winter weather that is lurking around the corner. There are a (measly) few things however that I do like about the season. On my list of the best things about fall are…
warm, fuzzy sweaters
boots, especially the little, lightweight ones (booties) that go with every outfit
glorious splashes of orange, yellow and red provided by the leaves in the otherwise drab landscape
the roses in the gardens that just don’t want to give it up
One of the best things about fall (autumn) is the glorious sunflowers that seem to sprout up so quickly this time of year. Fall is probably my least favourite season, with spring being favourite, but I do like the cheerful sunflowers. This past spring I planted a variety of sunflower seeds with my grandchildren. Some in pots on the back deck and a few in my front garden…
Today was a good day for applying a fall fertilizer to lawns. Why? Because it is still not too cold out, the grass is no longer growing but still green, and it was drizzling. At least it was as I finished the five lawns I had to fertilize. It’s raining harder now, which is also ideal because the rain helps water the fertilizer in. However, try to avoid fertilizing before a downpour, so your hard work is not washed away.
Today’s conditions were ideal for fall lawn fertilizing. Most experts will tell you that fall is the most important time to fertilize your lawns. Fertilizer applied at this time of the year is to strengthen (deepen) the roots, repair the lawn from summer drought/stresses and prepare the lawn for winter, so it is important to get the right product. These are two I frequently use for fertilizing lawns in the fall…
Both are pet and kid friendly, safe to walk on immediately after application. They can be purchased at your local garden centers or DIY (Home Depot, Lowes etc) stores.
Apply the fertilizer as instructed on the bags. I use a push spreader and apply the fertilizer in two directions to avoid patchiness (as pictured below). For irregularly shaped lawns, block off the lawn (visually) in squares or rectangles to ensure even distribution of the fertilizer.
Remember, a great looking lawn enhances the appearance of your garden. We all know I appreciate beautiful gardens. If you miss/forget any fertilizer applications, don’t miss the fall one!
For some reason, the fall season is when many gardeners get the itch to prune back plants in their gardens. The guidelines are as follows, at least for our zone 4 to 5 gardens here in Ottawa, Ontario:
if a shrub blooms early (before June) wait until after flowering to prune. Some examples of early bloomers that need that old wood to bloom on are lilacs, forsythia, bridal wreath spireas, sand cherries, weigela, ninebarks, rhododendrons, viburnum, cranberry bushes, flowering dogwoods, and magnolias.
if the shrub blooms after June, it can be pruned back in the fall or in the early spring when new growth is visible. Examples include Snowball and PeeGee Hydrangeas, spireas (except for bridal wreath), Butterfly bush, smoke tree, hibiscus (rose of Sharon), and red-stemmed dogwoods.
woody shrubs like boxwoods, junipers, and cedars can be trimmed back in the fall too, but also throughout the growing season (spring and summer)
some shrubs are best pruned while dormant (late fall to very early spring, late February to early March) These include barberries, smoke bush, crepe myrtles, spireas (except bridal wreath variety), dogwoods, and cotoneasters.
to rejuvenate shrubs that flower poorly, are overgrown or straggly, cut them back to just above the first bud above the soil while the plant is still dormant. Shrubs that do well with this drastic treatment include spireas, lilacs, ninebarks, forsythias, barberry, weigela, blue mist, forsythia, honeysuckle, and potentilla (cinquefoil). You may sacrifice the flowers the first season after this rejuvenation, but the plant will be healthier.
deciduous (non-evergreen) trees are best pruned when dormant (late winter) as well. It is much easier to see the structure of the tree before the leaves come out. Winter pruning also prevents the formation of bacteria and disease in the cuts. The wounds will heal quickly as new growth starts shortly after pruning.
dead branches can be cut off any time in the season.
after the first frost, remove any leaves from roses and apply mulch to the crowns. This prevents the plants from heaving from the ground during freeze/thaw cycles. You can cut the longs stems of the most tender floribundas, hybrid teas, and grandifloras back to 20 inches before winter too to prevent them from breaking off under a heavy snowfall. Another tip for tender roses is to apply a collar around the bush and fill it (loosely) with leaves. Wait to prune others back until daffodils start to bloom in the spring to ensure the ground temperature is sufficiently warm. Dead or broken branches can be cut off in the fall or any other time of the season. Suckers can also be removed in the fall, cutting them out as close to the base of the plant as possible.
Perennials can be, but do not have to be, dead-headed (remove dead blossoms) and cut back in the fall. Remove sturdy flower stalks (coneflowers etc) right back to the foliage at the base of the plant. Some gardeners like to leave these stalks on the plants over the winter for birds and their snow-covered beauty. On softer plants simply remove the browned and dead looking, limp, or soggy foliage (daylilies, peonies, bleeding hearts, etc) and cut back their stems to six or eight inches from the ground. I like to do everything I can in the fall because spring seems to be so short-lived these days and I run out of springtime hours in the gardens. Whenever you clean up your gardens, remember to harvest the seeds for future (freebie) plants as I did for my cottage garden.
Normally fall or autumn is my least favourite season as all the plants in my gardens start to die off in preparation for the winter ahead. The calendar says September 21st was the first day of autumn, but Mother Nature is displaying something quite different this year. We have had the most beautiful summer-like weather lately here in Ottawa, more summer-like than June, July, and August.
The gardens I work in are all confused. Many perennials such as roses, clematis, and weigela have rebloomed.
Others, such as peonies and bleeding hearts, that usually look unsightly around this time of year are still green and lush. Coneflowers have been in bloom all summer and continue to look great. The monarch butterflies are loving the lasting blossoms…
Is September the new July? If this is autumn, I’ll take it, weird or not!
Normally fall or autumn is my least favourite season as all the plants in my gardens start to die off in preparation for the winter ahead. The calendar says September 21st was the first day of fall or autumn, but Mother Nature is displaying something quite different this year. We have had the most beautiful summer-like weather lately here in Ottawa, more summer-like than June, July, and August.
The gardens I work in are all confused. Many perennials have rebloomed (roses, clematis, and weigelia)…
and others that usually look unsightly around this time of year (peonies and bleeding hearts) are still green and lush. Coneflowers have been in bloom all summer and continue to look great. The monarch butterflies are loving the lasting blossoms…
Is September the new July? If this is fall, I’ll take it, weird or not!
In a recent postI listed many shrubs categorized by when you should prune them. The reason you should not prune many shrubs in the fall is because you will remove most of the buds that will turn into flowers the following spring. Examples of these buds are shown here in magnolia, rhododendron and forsythia shrubs…
If you must prune these shrubs to control their size, wait until after they bloom in the spring to do so…
please be sure to visit my slightly more humorous blog YOUR DAILY CHUCKLEIt is guaranteed to make you LOL.