Hello, gardeners. The summer has flown by. Have you begun planting your fall garden?
You may have removed some of your underperforming annuals at this point. If not, prune them back for a final flush of new growth and perhaps even a bloom.
Look at gardens in your area that you admire. You might want to add some of those plants to your own garden. If you have gardening friends and they are not sending you home with pieces from their gardens, it is probably because they have not thought about it when you are around. Ask if they will share plants. They will likely be thrilled and complimented.
Labor Day has been observed, so it is time to start planting for fall harvest. Likely it will be late October before we have our first frost. With that in mind, start planting lettuce, turnip greens, radishes and kale. Cover greens if a frost is advised, and you will probably have harvest for the holidays.
While gathering seeds and plants, think about your container gardening. What is prettier than a lovely Swiss chard in a mixed planting with pansies and a colorful heuchera? Or maybe an ornamental grass or sedge mixed with leaf lettuce and a bright fall-colored mum. You will have a lovely planting to feast your eyes on and yummy greens to pick and feast on also. If the planting is used as a welcome container, that makes it easy to step right out and harvest.
It is also a good time to start thinking about spring-blooming bulbs. Check local garden centers and catalogs for availability. Did you make a list of perennials you did not have in your garden that you want next year? Order or buy them now, but wait until November to plant if they are in bulb form. Friends, it seems I always have a plant list. Along with that list, I am always out scouting new places to take over an area of lawn with flowers and ornamentals.
Are you growing elephant ears and banana plants in your garden? If not, consider a trial spot in the spring. I have great success in the afternoon shade of an old pecan tree. The plants get the morning sun and are mostly shaded in the afternoon. Be aware they are heavy feeders and also need good watering. This past spring and summer did not present much of a water problem.
In the same garden “room,” I have introduced Voodoo Lily, amorphophallus bulbifer. Having lost one in the past, I find the new additions are enjoying the same morning sun and afternoon shading as the banana. Once established, the Voodoo Lily presents a unique bloom and even more unique “fragrance” in spring. My Yorkie alerted me to the bloom in my garden this year: interesting flower and smell not unlike rotting flesh.
Whether you like the tried and true or want to introduce something new, enjoy fall gardening and planning for 2017.
— Pam Eagles, Wake County Extension Master Gardener • September 2016