Fall Trimming & Blooms

Fall asters Alma Potschke in the October garden. Photo (c) Hilda M. Morrill
Fall asters Alma Potschke in the October garden. Photo (c) Hilda M. Morrill

Fall has arrived, and with it, cooler weather and shorter days. Thankfully, we’ve had some much-needed rain.

The pink blossoms of the fall asters ‘Alma Potschke’ are spectacular. Although the lower parts of the plants always seem to dry up early in the season, when their tops are in bloom, they are a joy for sure.

But, I’m wondering if I should trim their foliage a couple of times throughout the summer? Can’t remember if I’ve done so in the past. I’ve heard/read that doing so will make the plants bushier and stronger; although they’ll bloom at a later time.

In fact, I’m thinking of also trimming all daylily foliage after blooming on varieties that bloom only once a season. I did so to one grouping this year as a test, and it looks fine now as we head into fall and winter; whereas the untrimmed ones are a mess.

We forgot to trim the miscanthus grasses, and when they finally bloomed, they were too tall (6’+) and toppled over. Sadly, they had to be pruned to the ground a couple of weeks ago.

I’m thinking of permanently removing some of our ferns and planting something else in their place. Although not in full sun all day, they dried up and looked terrible during this summer’s heat and drought.

In the vegetable garden, we’re still harvesting lettuce, radishes, parsley and perennial chives.

The “container” corn did not do so well. We only “harvested” a few ears. Maybe I planted the seeds too late? The plants are tall and still look good and healthy. Their tops will be cut off; but the roots will stay, improving the soil as they decompose over the winter.

As a point of interest, we’ve always had good luck in planting “container” zucchini in our small raised garden beds.

I must buy some potted mums to have on hand to replace the begonias and coleus in our containers once the frost kills them.

The Muscari leaves are emerging, showing us where beautiful grape hyacinths will bloom next spring. It’s amazing how they have spread.

Speaking of blooms, a couple of rhododendron and azalea shrubs are presently in bloom! It’s so weird to see them at this time of the year. And, the Endless Summer hydrangeas are finally blooming after a lackluster summer.

The seven-son flower tree (Heptacodium miconioides) is putting on its annual fall show. Now that it has bloomed, the stunning red-pink calyces will continue to enchant for the rest of the fall. They are so pretty and eye catching that some people think they are the true flowers. (Collectively the sepals are called the calyx [plural: calyces], the outermost whorl of parts that form a flower.)

The Kousa dogwoods are loaded with red berries as are the hollies. And some of the rose bushes are exhibiting colorful rose hips. The birds and squirrels are happy.

Seeds from some of our favorite biennials such as digitalis and salvia sclaria have germinated. Most of the baby plants will stay where they’ve come up, while some will be transplanted to other locations (if and when I get to it).

I also need to root some cuttings of the gorgeous annual coleus ‘Kingswood Torch’ which has spent the summer in our front-steps planter.

So many perennials need dividing, especially the Siberian iris! Hoping I get to it before the snow comes. If not, so be it.

Sadly, the humming birds have departed and the butterflies are few and far between.

We’ve received a complimentary copy of the 2015 UMass Garden Calendar, which is full of glorious photographs and great gardening information. Looking forward to perusing it!

According to our present calendar, daylight saving time ends on Sunday, November 2. Let’s all be sure to set back our clocks an hour!

Happy Gardening!