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Fall Gardening with Denis Flanagan

Should you augment your garden with additional plants in the fall?

Absolutely, says Denis Flanagan, celebrity gardener and public relations manager for Landscape Ontario, who calls this time of the year “the forgotten season.”

“I think what keeps people from even thinking of planting in the fall is that the air temperature starts dipping, so they assume it’s too late,” he explains. “But when you dig down, the soil temperature is actually still warm enough to make this a wonderful time to plant things that will come up beautifully in springtime.”

Flanagan’s advice to all area gardeners is not to pack their tools away too soon if they want their gardens to be full of colour next spring. “Fall should be one of a gardener’s favourite seasons,” he says, “because it’s when you get to plan and create what your garden will look like for the next year.”

Ideal choices for fall planting are bulbs that will yield spring flowers including crocuses, daffodils, tulips, hyacinth and snowdrops, says Flanagan. All must be planted in the fall because they need the long, cold winter for a dormant rest period. Ideal planting time for bulbs, he adds, is from September to December, even after the first frost, as long as the ground can still be worked.

As well as bulbs, Flanagan urges gardeners to consider adding perennials in the fall, saying that they often don’t do so because, “They’ll go to garden centres right about now and see perennials that are starting to lose their leaves and flowers, so they don’t look as appealing as they did a couple months ago.

“Yet if you trim them back,” he adds, “it’s an absolutely wonderful time to be planting perennials like Shasta daisies, astilbe and coreopsis, which can be bought in containers and planted, and will survive until spring.”

As a tip to his fellow gardeners, Flanagan predicts that bold colours such as red, orange and yellow will be all the rage next spring, along with traditional white, which will never go out of style.

Landscape Ontario has provided the following tips for adding bulbs to your garden this fall:

Prepare the bed:

When preparing a bed, double digging will help to make a well-drained planting bed. Also, be sure to use top quality bulbs that are now available at Green for Life gardening centres.

Condition the soil:

Improve soil by adding three inches of peat moss and one inch of composted manure. Then work in to a depth of 30 cm. Add 1 kg of bone meal for every 1,000 sq. ft. (92.9 sq. m).

Gardening techniques:

When planting, ensure the pointy end of the bulb faces upwards. Read the instructions for each bulb to ensure you have the correct planting depth. Also, add a sprinkle of blood and bone meal to discourage squirrels from stealing your bulbs for food.  After planting, water the area to settle the ground and initiate rooting.

Add 2-5 cm of mulch:

Adding mulch will help prevent winter weeds, retain moisture and insulate against severe winter cold and temperature fluctuations.

Special to EiEiHome by Terry Poulton

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