Fall is in the Air!

11 Sep Fall is in the Air!

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 Dear Nancy,

I just returned from a week away- unplugged, roaming the beautiful countryside of Vermont. I wrote a blog post about my travels- see the article in the sidebar on the left. Pictures too! I arrived home to find my garden literally overflowing with produce. You know you have an abundant harvest when you fire up your chest freezer in the cellar for the first time in a few years. I spent my last vacation day processing tomatoes, beans, peppers, and cooking a delicious dinner-garden to table! The full moon on Monday night was enormous. It marks the time to plant root crops. In our part of the world that means radish seeds can go in this weekend. The organic fall veggie seedlings that we have left are now seventy five percent off- that includes kale plants! I saw so much kale in Vermont. This crop will get better as the weather gets colder. You can even plant kaleseeds now. Last year we ran out and everyone wanted it. This year we are well stocked. Kale doesn’t have to only grow in your veggie garden. It is very ornamental and can be planted in bare spots in your perennial borders. It will most likely be the last green plant standing in early December…or beyond. Did I mention it is very nutritious too?

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In addition, NOW is the time to plant Colchicum bulbs. These are perennial giant autumn “crocus”. They are 100% rodent proof and bloom every FALL. It is best to get them in the ground really early. Colchicums have a backwards life cycle from most of the bulbs we are stocking now. They bloom, without any leaves, in September and October. In the spring, the leaves come up, grow for a month, then go dormant. This allows gardeners to play all kinds of fun visual tricks with these wonderful fall bloomers.
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Another fun bulb with the same backwards life cycle is naked lady Amaryllis, Lycoris squamigera. These were blooming absolutelyeverywhere when I visited the Chicago Botanic Garden. They look amazing with early Japanese anemones. And they are fragrant! Who knew?
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The first of our organic hardneck seed garlic has arrived. Yup, that’s me holding my crop, grown in my own gardens. It’s really early to be planting garlic (I usually wait until mid October), but you should procure your garlic NOW. I grew German Extra Hardy with big, white, juicy cloves and Russian Red, with a slightly red tinge to the bulbs, a bit stronger and more pungent. We have a great handout on how to grow garlic in CT. It’s really easy and once you have eaten home-grown garlic, you won’t settle for anything less!
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My garden may have yielded abundant food upon my return, but the rest of it was an overgrown tangled mess! Two weeks of Sundays away meant I hadn’t touched my yard in a while. I spent an entire day chopping, pruning, deadheading, weeding, watering, and cutting back tired plants. I didn’t just deadhead my butterfly bushes, I cut them in half. I have done this for the past two years and they rebound and rebloom beautifully by late September.
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Aster Oblongifolous
 Lots of summer perennials are now finished. By cutting them back I have left many gaps in my borders. Enter fall blooming perennials! I am so grateful for every single late bloomer I have ever installed right now. Asters are starting to open everywhere. They are big and bushy and certainly distract the eye from past-bloom plants. Plants that were chopped back earlier have lush foliage again and starting to flower: repeat blooming daylilies such as ‘Fragrant Returns’, fernleaf yarrows, Nepetas, even the humble spiderwort is putting on quite a show.
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I am inspired to bring home many more autumn bloomers. My wish list includes Rudbeckia subtomentosa, Chrysopsis villosa, Lespedeza, as many asters as I can stuff in between my shrubs, and Vitex negundo. Don’t know what these are? Check out the article below as I showcase a few of my favorite plants of the moment.What’s going on this weekend? WE ARE NOW OPEN SUNDAYS AGAIN!!! Our fall hours are Monday-Saturday 9-5 and Sundays 10-4.  This Saturday morning at 9:30 I am doing a fall wreath making demonstration. Consequently, we are unpacking and putting out all kinds of grapevine wreaths and wall baskets, autumn ribbons, dried flowers, pods, and other fun items. I am also drying all kinds of natural materials in my back garage.
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Join me to learn this age-old craft. At noon we are having a TOMATO SAUCE SHARING event- we have dubbed it Saucy Saturday. I will bring in some crusty Italian bread and beverages and my husbands delicious marinara sauce, along with the recipe. I invite you to bring in a sample ofyour homemade tomato sauce and your recipe. We will taste and share and learn from each other! Sunday Diane will give a free workshop on raising and releasing monarch butterflies. Everyone has been asking her to do this- we call her the monarch lady! She is raising, tagging, and releasing them on a regular basis. Details on all of these fun events are below.

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P.S. Ever wonder how big a Mammoth Mum can get in one year? When I returned home from vacation, my ‘Mammoth Bronze Daisy’ perennial mum had burst into bloom. Below is a photo of it in my border.
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