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As you enjoy the last weekend of summer, take advantage of the still mild temperatures, warm soil, and increased moisture to add a few more plants to your garden. Here are four things I’m planting this autumn:
Garlic is one of the easiest edibles to grow and is resistant to most pests, diseases and even deer. Plus, homegrown garlic has a depth of flavour you’ll not find in the imported bulbs of supermarket garlic. The best type of garlic to grow in our region is hardneck garlic and you’ll find bulbs for planting at garden centres and farmers markets.
Plant garlic in October in a sunny garden bed that has been amended with compost. Break garlic bulbs into individual cloves and plant each one five centimetres deep and 15 centimetres apart. In late fall, cover the bed with a 15 centimetre deep winter blanket of straw or shredded leaves. The first harvest comes when the delicious garlicky scapes emerge in June, followed in late July by a bumper crop of big bulbs.
While spring may seem rather far away, do yourself a favour and plant some spring-flowering bulbs like crocus, grape hyacinths or daffodils this autumn. As with garlic, these bulbs should be planted in mid to late autumn, about six weeks before the ground freezes.
The key to growing beautiful bulbs is to plant them in the right spot. Most will grow in full sun, but if your garden has more shade, stick to types like snowdrops, glory-of-the-snow, species daffodils, grape hyacinths and Siberian squill. Well-drained soil is a must as bulbs can rot if planted in wet soil and don’t forget to add compost and bulb fertilizer when preparing the bed.
Don’t wait for spring, autumn is the prime time to add more perennials to your garden. Why? The still-warm soil helps roots settle in quicker than they would in the cool, wet soil of spring, but there’s also a great selection of perennials available at our Nova Scotia nurseries.
Before you head to the garden centre, consider your perennial beds. Were there any gaps this past spring, summer, or even last autumn where you had little colour and interest? Aim to fill those spots with flowering or foliage perennials.
For spring, plant peonies, columbine, euphorbia, and hellebore. Add long-lasting summer colour with daylilies, bee balm, coneflowers, and astilbe. My autumn favourites include globe thistle, sneezeweed (this poorly named plant won’t make you sneeze), Joe Pye weed and ornamental grasses.
Trees and Shrubs
Whenever I talk to our local nursery owners, they all tell me the same thing: we’re not planting enough trees. My goal was to change that this year and so I’ve added four new trees to my property, with the intention of adding even more next year.
Trees are often an afterthought in our landscapes when they should be the first type of plant we consider. Trees supply oxygen, provide shade, and increase property values. Shrinking property sizes and worries about planting near power lines have left many of us shy about planting trees, but in reality, there are many trees that are extremely compact and can fit in practically any sized garden.
Because you want a tree to live for decades, if not centuries, it pays to do a bit of research before you head to the garden centre. Also take some photos of your yard and garden to show to the experts at the nursery. They are happy to help you choose the perfect tree for your site. Popular small to medium-sized trees include magnolias, kousa dogwoods, peegee hydrangeas like vanilla strawberry and limelight, and forest pansy redbud.
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