Invigorating October Days

Invigorating October Days

What a difference a week makes! Last Thursday our Facebook Live was all about “life after 32 degrees”. Well, I should have called it “life after 29 degrees” as that is how cold it got that night! I went straight from picking green beans and zinnias on Tuesday to cutting down my tender annuals on Sunday. Usually we have a much milder frost first, then a harder frost a week or so later. Not this year. 
What I was trying to explain in that Facebook video was that frost is simply one stage of fall. The next day, there is still so much going on in the landscape. We grow so many hardy plants that laugh at the cold. Diane took this picture of her frosted perennial mums last year. Guess what? Later that morning they were perky and pretty and undamaged and the bees came back out to them! The same can be said for so many plants. 
I had to force myself outside on Sunday, my regular gardening day. The wind was howling and I had 5 layers on. But I found it invigorating. I moved fast, got a lot done, and spent some lovely time looking at the beautiful changing foliage in the hills beyond my property. My cat Buddy was in heaven, running from here to there, chasing seed pods and playing hide and seek in the ornamental grasses. 
Plant more asters, lots of asters, this week! #feedthebees
Because the colder weather has arrived a week earlier than usual, Diane and I have decided to put most of our outdoor plants on sale at half off. This sale excludes all evergreens and holiday plants. But it does include our asters, perennial mums, and all kinds of great perennials such as Phlox ‘Jeana’, mountain mint, Hellebores, ornamental goldenrods, tall and short ironweed, tons of asters, Caryopteris, and a lot more. It may seem hard to imagine planting now, but BELIEVE ME, every plant you add to your garden in October makes you SO happy next year. I am steadily digging in more Montauk daisies, daylilies, and (of course), more perennial mums. My gaps and problem areas are crystal clear to me now. In the spring, it will all look so different and I will forget how desperately I wanted to improve things and fill in the gaps. 
As you strap your garden sickle into your holster and make your way around your yard, remember to leave some of the plant stems up for our native tunnel nesting bees. Also, imagine how a perennial will look covered with snow or frost. Some plants have an architectural presence all winter long. Leave some seed pods to feed the birds. Once you have cut down the herbaceous plants, you will suddenly see all the space left between the crowns of the plants for BULBS! Finally, it feels like the right time to start planting spring and early summer blooming bulbs. And we’ve got plenty. If you have a problem with voles or deer, plant your bulbs with Repellex Systemic. This all natural product gets taken up into the bulbs and makes them taste like hot pepper. Reapply it as the bulbs first emerge in the spring and it will last for 3 months, allowing the bulbs to bloom and complete their life cycle without damage. 
Speaking of bulbs, NOW is the time to pot up hardy bulbs for winter forcing. This is so easy to do, and so satisfying. I will be explaining the basics this Thursday at 4:30 on Facebook Live. Tune in and then come by and get the bulbs, clay pots, and organic potting soil that you need. You will thank me when you pull these pots up in February and they fill your winter windowsill with color. You can then pop them into the garden when spring arrives and voila! You have just added to your bulb garden. 
Pot up some of your favorite bulbs for forcing. I will explain how easy this is on Thursday at 4:30 on Facebook Live. Tune in!

My home office is filled with houseplants and it makes me so happy. I wasn’t able to give my houseplant workshop a few weeks ago due to illness in the family, but you

can Click Here and read our Houseplant Care handout and learn the basics. All of the sudden, the whole world loves houseplants again! I have always loved them, in fact I studied them in college in the 70’s. We are building our collection in the shop and the greenhouse as the weather gradually changes. NOW is the time to groom them, spray them if needed with Neem to prevent insects, repot them into our wonderful Organic Mechanics soil, or, if they don’t need repotting, topdress them with rich worm castings for a gentle feeding. The light levels are getting lower and the days are getting shorter, so plants need to acclimate, just like we do. Let us help you add

living plants to your home right now. 

Another good project for this weekend is to pot up Amaryllis bulbs. It sounds crazy, but if you want to give budded Amaryllis plants as holiday gifts, you only have 2 months to go! These don’t need a chill period. Instead, we start them off in the warmest spot we have (top of the refrigerator works well) and, once they begin to root in and a sprout appears, we place them in a sunny window and turn them daily. It is impossible to describe the amazement a blooming amaryllis brings to someone who has never grown them before. I used to plant one up for my parents and they would call me, yardstick in hand, to report how many inches it grew every few days. Of course, when the gigantic flowers opened, I got an Instamatic picture in the mail! (I know, I am dating myself…). 

We are SO excited to have finally gotten in the second printing of Urban and Suburban Meadows, the book by Catherine Zimmerman that taught and inspired Diane to plant her own beautiful meadow. We also have some wonderful meadow seed mixes and the time to plant them is coming up soon. If you have ever considered reducing your lawn and incorporating a meadow into your yard, fall is the time.  Read Diane’s article explaining how this works below. 

It’s here! Our “bible” on meadows has finally been reprinted. Did you know the time to plant the seed is late fall?

We have also gotten in lots of new microgreen and baby green seeds. Although I still have lettuce and arugula growing outside, many of you may be craving the healthy,

delicious fresh greens you were used to for the past 6 months and didn’t get in those fall crops. You can grow them right on your windowsill! These condensed versions of the food we love are packed with nutrients. 

This weekend we are offering 3 workshops in our greenhouse. Succulent Pumpkins is sold out, but there are still spots left in the other two: Flower Arranging Fall Style and Pumpkin Planting and Trick or Treat Treasure Hunt for Kids. If it is rainy, they will be held in our heated greenhouse. 
Go to our website or call the shop to register. 

As Halloween approaches, replace your frozen flowers with hardy ornamental cabbage and kale. Don’t forget to carve a Jack-o-lantern or 2. All of our remaining pumpkins and gourds are now half price. Go crazy and make your home the most welcoming one on the block for the trick-or-treaters. The kale and the winter pansies just keep getting better as it gets colder. 

Soon you will be seeking out evergreens and berries to cut and stud your porch pots and windowboxes. Why not grow your own? I have a bumper crop of berries on my Ilex verticillata (deciduous holly or winterberry). The leaves are still on, but soon they will turn and drop off. Then I will harvest branches and stick them in the pots outside my home office French doors. They will look great for the holidays and, in late winter, the birds will come to the deck and eat the berries. 

This Bluebird was snacking on the winterberries in January. This was the first year I had bluebirds nesting in the yard. Was it a coincidence or was my yard chosen because of this winter snack?
Diane captured this amazing photo of a bluebird on her deck last winter. That is a planter she brought home at the end of December. I had robins arrive in March, happily stripping my branches bare. We have a nice selection of these native winterberries in stock. If you plant them now, next year you will be harvesting your own!
Fall foliage is starting to peak in our part of the world. It’s time to bundle up in those scarves and hats and enjoy the crisp days. It will fill you with energy to soak up the sunshine and breathe in the cold air. Then, when you get back indoors and have a cup of tea and sit in front of a warm fire, you will say to yourself “I am so glad I live in New England.”. It is a constantly changing place, and that is what makes it so interesting.
Please stop in and take advantage of our clearance sales so we can make room for the next big change- the holiday season. We have a mere 10 weeks until the end of the year. A lot will happen in that time. Be sure your world, inside and out, is happily planted, decked, decorated, and filled with natural beauty. Let us help you make it happen…
Stop in this week. See you soon.