And now it’s OCTOBER!

And now it’s OCTOBER!

It’s October! One of the prettiest months of the year, and a time when we all get re-energized to decorate and plant and celebrate the cooler weather. A deep, soaking rain as the month arrived assures that the grass seed will sprout and our newly planted perennials, ornamental grasses, shrubs, and trees will root in nicely into the warm, moist soil.

As you work in your gardens and replant your containers for fall, don’t forget to do a bit of “pumpkinscaping” as well!

It is PRIME TIME to get outside and get your garden organized. Take a look now, before you start cutting things down. If you need to divide or rearrange,

A scene from Diane’s lovely fall garden, filled with pollinator flowers and food.

make a plan to spend a few hours each week tackling one small project at a time. That is how I am doing it. Sunday I dug out one small bed that was in dire need of a renovation. Out with the lemon balm and ground ivy. I dug up perennials that were in the wrong place and temporarily potted them and am holding them in the shade as I continue this process next weekend. I stared at my giant pile of plants that I have been amassing and started getting serious about exactly where I will be planting them. I took a ton of digital photos, just in case there are projects that will have to wait till next spring. Winter has a funny way of wiping our problem areas out of our minds. NOW is the time to really analyze what you want to happen to make your garden even better in 2020.

At Natureworks, we like to do things a bit differently. If you have container gardens that are looking a little bit tired, consider adding some perennials to the mix. That way, in November, you can plant them in your permanent garden! That is what I do all the time at home. This fall bushel basket has a variegated Acorus grass, a fern, and a burgundy Heuchera as well as gourds and a few annuals. That’s THREE new perennials that you will be happy you planted come next year.

This planter has a miniature perennial green fountain grass along with a pretty bronze Heuchera. We also stock the cutest annual mums in small pots that are perfect to tuck into containers and windowboxes to fill in the blanks. Feel free to bring in your tired and bedraggled containers and let us replant them for you while you wait. Leave the mess here and simply go home and plunk it down, surround it with a collection of our pumpkins and gourds, and voila! Instant fall decor.

Montauk daisies and anemones say October has arrived!
October is the month when a whole new bunch of perennials come into flower. Montauk daisies are starting to open. I love these plants as they have great leaves all summer and then open up just when the plants around them are finishing up. October is the month for the later Japanese anemones to start flowering. We have white ones, pink ones, tall ones, short ones. The bees adore them and they make great cut flowers in your autumn bouquets.

A sea of October Skies asters float beneath my lady in the garden this month.
October is the month when many of my favorite asters grace my garden. I have been studying the succession of bloom with asters for many years. Shown above is Aster oblogifolius ‘October Skies’, aptly named for its lovely color. It is super hardy and very deer resistant. It needs only a single pinch in June and that’s it, totally carefree. Needless to say, the butterflies and bees adore it.

Aster laevis ‘Bluebird’. Check out the glossy, oval leaves. This is how you can recognize it.

Another absolutely indispensable aster for this month is Aster laevis ‘Bluebird’. This has a different habit. It is called the smooth aster as the leaves are shiny and oblong. Flower stalks rise up 2-3′ from a broad clump. Again, all it needs is a single pinch in June. I find this aster very tolerant of partial shade as well as full sun. I have lots of them all around my yard.

Why asters? Most of the ones we sell are native perennials and very hardy. They are one of the most important plants for our late fall pollinators. When I walk outside in October, I hear the bees before I see them as I walk around my yard. They are great weavers, floating up around bolder textured plants like Sedums and goldenrods.

This lovely scene took my breath away when I rounded the corner of this border. Purple New England asters intermingled with smooth asters and a late blooming ‘Becky’ Shasta daisy. This is a small corner of my garden that I renovated this spring. I am so glad I did!

Many of my perennial mums and asters arrive by decorating my front porch

From a fall porch pot to a garden next to the porch steps. This is how I build my permanent garden year after year.

and then being popped into the garden. Last year I planted up a pot with Aster lateriflorus ‘Lady in Black’ and a pretty pink Mammoth mum. I simply plunked them next to the step they were sitting on right into the garden where I had been removing pachysandra and ferns to make the front of the house more interesting. This year it looks so pretty! I pinched HALF of the ‘Lady in Black’ aster to show the difference pinching makes. The very tall back half was left alone (see picture on the left). Mammoth mums are so useful as they start way before the other perennial mums and give you lots of flowers for picking in September, continuing into October…

We have a few varieties of Mammoth Mums left including red daisies, pink, and an awesome coral color that looks so nice with blue asters. One plant will yield over 300 blossoms after a few years in the garden.

We also just got in several varieties of Minnesota mums. We started carrying these last year after researching their origin and realizing that they are also cold hardy. The deep red ones I trialed came back nicely in my garden. Can you tell I am absolutely obsessed with perennial mums? The last to crack open their flowers are those that are related to Korean mums. They won’t be blooming till much later this month and will continue into early November, much to the delight of our native pollinators.

As October unfolds, don’t forget to start stockpiling your bulbs and begin getting them into the ground. I have started that process- I have a dedicated big basket in the garage where I put the bulbs I keep bringing home. As I work on various beds, either weeding or cutting back or rearranging, I open up spaces for the bulbs to go in between the crowns of the plants. That is how I DOUBLE THE COLOR in my landscape. You can too. I happen to be teaching a FREE class on that very subject this Saturday morning. I will show you how this works, including demonstrating some bulb tracing paper overlays on some of my garden designs. You can plant bulbs this fall that will bloom in order from late February thru July. Come to this class and learn all about it. Details are below.

Drumstick alliums are small, inexpensive bulbs. Tuck them between your plants and then cut them in July for bouquets. They also dry very well, turning a softer shade of purple when hung.

Sunday we are offering another FREE workshop, this time on Late Great Native Plants for Fall Pollinators. This will take place under our teaching tent at 1 pm. Please register even for our free workshops so we are prepared for you. Details are below. This workshop would be a great way to enhance your October flower palette. There are so many plants to discover!

The inside of our shop is also bursting with beauty. We are starting to make succulent pumpkins and many are being embellished with our own dried flowers. One entire room is filled with flower bulbs. Another area is all houseplants and pretty pots. And of course, we are still raising and tagging monarch butterflies for a few more weeks. We had a blast at the Durham Fair last weekend and taught SO many people about the monarch life cycle. We will be bringing our monarchs on the road one more time to the Hammonassett Festival this Saturday at the Guilford Fairgrounds, along with information on many other pollinators. See the details for this and all of our classes and events below.

So, let’s all welcome October with open arms. Let’s get back into the garden, sit on the deck and soak up all the sunshine we can, and take advantage of every nice day. Be sure to make time in your schedule to stop by and visit Natureworks. I guarantee you that strolling our gardens will soothe your soul and make you happy. There is so much life here, so much to appreciate and celebrate. It truly is an oasis in our crazy world. We look forward to seeing you…


P.S. Guess what JUST arrived! The GARLIC IS HERE!!!! Did you know garlic is planted in fall? Come and choose some now, and stay tuned for more info on planting tips and tricks. It is WAY too early to plant it now and the ground is too warm.

In addition to all of the beautiful, healthy plants on our retail benches, we do have a 50% off sale area too. The selection changes daily. Our staff is picky–if a plant is on our regular bench and it is not up to our standards, it is moved to the 1/2 off area. Gardeners love this area–you can get some great deals. I am going to let the staff really fill it up for the weekend! They have already started! Come and get some great deals that will reward you in 2020.