“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.”


Private shade garden, Garden Tour, July, 2018


Field Trip to Blithewold Mansion Gardens, August 2018


Private garden tour, Garden Tour, July 2018


  1.       Continue to thoroughly water trees, shrubs, planting beds, and lawn areas up until a hard frost. It is especially important to keep newly planted evergreens watered.  Keep any newly seeded areas of lawn well-watered.
  2.       Keep pulling up the summer veggies as they ripen, and make room for fall crops as they die off. Compost the spent plants.  Plant a cover crop, such as clover. It helps correct any nitrogen issues.
  3.        Bring any “vacationing” houseplants back inside before the first frost. Scout for insects and rinse the foliage and containers.  Potted plants need to be re-potted, especially the tropicals in outdoor containers. Add new potting mix and increase the pot by one size. Consider applying an insecticidal soap to the soil after re-potting so it leaches down into the new pot.
  4.        Keep collecting ripe seeds! Dry them out and place them in labeled brown paper envelops within an air-tight container, and store in a cool place.
  5.        Remove, bag and trash any gypsy moth or bagworm egg masses or spray with a horticultural oil to smother them.  This will eliminate the spring hatch from over-wintered eggs.
  6.        Clean up any remaining debris from the garden beds but do not add it to the compost pile unless disease free.
  7.        Get your soil tested for next year’s garden now to avoid the spring rush. Collect samples before the ground freezes. More information at
  8.         Replace spent annuals with cold-hardy mums, asters, pansies, or kale for color well into December.
  9.          As vegetable plants and annual flowers fade, pull them to get a start on garden cleanup. Before composting the remains, cut them up a bit with a pruning shears (or shred) to speed decomposition.
  10. October is the time for your second application of fertilizer with a “winterizer” type on the label, one with an NPK (nitrogen/ phosphorous/ potassium) of around 28-0-14. New lawns, after you have cut them three times, can be treated for weeds, and yes, you are feeding the weeds too, so just be patient.
  11. It’s also time to plant spring blooming bulbs. Pay attention to the planting depth as listed on the packages. 
  12. Squash and pumpkins should be harvested when they have bright color and a thick, hard skin.
  13. Sketch out where you planted various vegetables in your garden back in the spring. This will come in handy next spring so when you plant, you can rotate your crops to prevent disease.
  14. Be extra-vigilant cleaning up under fruit trees and picking all fruit off the trees to prevent disease and pests.  Clear any turf or weeds from the area right around the trunks of fruit trees and ornamentals to reduce winter damage by rodents. Hardware cloth collars can be put in place year-round as well.
  15. Treat lawn for grubs to avoid moles, voles, and other wildlife.
  16. Prune deciduous trees after the leaves have dropped and are in a dormancy period. Wait on the Crape Myrtles until March, and roses until February. Evergreens can be pruned now. Feed them lightly after pruning, as well as in the late winter (around March).  Continue watering to avoid dessication and winterburn.  Evergreens may show some browning or yellowing of needles at this time of year, which is normal.
  17. As leaves start falling, mulch them in place.  Use extra shredded leaves in your beds.
  18. Apply winter mulches around trees and perennials once the ground has frozen. Do not spread beforehand as it can delay dormancy for plants and provides cover for chipmunks and voles.
  19. Place daffodil, hyacinth, tulips or other pre-chilled bulbs in pots in a cool dark place so that they can be forced to bloom during the winter.
  20. Divide and replant clumps of rhubarb that have become congested.
  21. Use dried herbs to make fragrant fall wreaths and dried flower arrangements.
  22. Think about adding fall and winter plants to the landscape.
  23. Heavy commercial paper wrap will protect trees from sunscald and will repel insects and rodents.  Wrap the paper around susceptible trees and secure with twine or rope.  Make sure the paper is not too tight.  (Sunscald is also called southwest injury and occurs in late winter and early spring on the southwest side of thin bark trees. The direct sun or reflected sunlight from snow or heats tree bark during the day. The tissues become active and breaks dormancy. With freezing night time temperatures, the active tissues are killed. The bark area involved shows an elongated canker that appears discolored and sunken. Cracking and peeling of the bark may follow.)
  24. Cannas, dahlias and elephant ears and other tender bulbs need to be dug carefully for indoor storage. Once frost blackens the foliage, cut back the tops to 6 inches and dig carefully, then brush or wash off soil and let dry for two weeks or so to cure. Stash in a dry spot like unheated basement or crawl space around 40-50 degrees, in boxes or pots filled with bark chips, sawdust, perlite or peat moss.
  25. Clean and put away empty containers and garden ornaments.
  26. Harvest and dry or freeze herbs for winter use.
  27. Clean and sharpen gardening tools.
  28. Sow wildflower seeds.
  29. Clean Tools – Oil wood handles, dip in a one-part bleach/3-part water solution, then spray oil (boiled linseed oil, tung oil, or cooking oil) to metal parts. Drain hoses and nozzles.  Service mowers and blowers.  Store all for winter.
  30. Start forcing bulbs like paperwhiteshyacinth, and amaryllis for the holidays.
  31. If you're planning on buying a live Christmas tree with the intention of planting it this winter, dig the hole now, before the ground freezes. Remember to keep the soil covered, so that it too does not freeze and can go back into the hole.

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