What to do in your garden in October

Jim McCausland,  – September 5, 2008

[P] [B {GO SHOPPING}][BR] [B {Versatile hand tool}] Oregon-based [XLINK “http://www.leatherman.com” “Leatherman” “” “_new”] has a new pro-quality bypass pruner called Genus ([SPECIAL_CHAR {36}]99), the first really good multifunction pruner we’ve found. Its handle has the smooth side out when you cut, but push the button, rotate the handle around, and you’ll find a knife, Phillips-head and standard screwdrivers, a saw, and a sprinkler-adjustment key. [CP][P] [B {PLANT NOW}][BR] [B {Bulbs for forcing}] Start paperwhite narcissus this month or next and, typically in three to five weeks, they’ll be blooming and filling the house with fragrance for the holidays. (Visit [XLINK “/paperwhites” “sunset.com/paperwhites”] to learn more about forcing them.) Also start amaryllis for showy trumpetlike blooms, and smaller bulbs like anemones and compact irises. [CP][P] [XLINK “/sunset/garden/article/0,20633,696479~1160094,00.html” “[B {Lawns}]”] [I {Sunset}] climate zones 4[SPECIAL_CHAR {150}]7, 17: Early this month, start a new lawn. The easiest and best way to do it this time of year is with sod; you can also grow one from seed, which is less expensive but takes longer. Just prepare the soil by tilling it 6 to 8 inches deep, raking out the rocks, and leveling the site. Then put down sod or sow seed, and keep the site evenly moist until fall rains take over. [CP][P] [XLINK “/sunset/garden/article/0,20633,1550358~1160094,00.html” “[B {Perennial groundcovers}]”] Plant evergreen kinds now, so they’ll have all winter to send out roots before spring growth begins. Good ones to try east of the Cascades include carpet bugle [I {(Ajuga reptans)}], dead nettle [I {(Lamium maculatum)}], London pride [I {(Saxifraga x urbium)}], moss pink [I {(Phlox subulata)}], snow-in-summer [I {(Cerastium tomentosum)}], sweet woodruff [I {(Galium odoratum)}], [I {Verbena}] ‘Homestead Purple’, and woolly thyme. [CP][P] West of the Cascades, you can add black mondo grass [I {(Ophiopogon planiscapus}] ‘Nigrescens’), blue star creeper [I {(Pratia pedunculata)}], jewel mint of Corsica [I {(Mentha requienii), Lithodora diffusa}] ‘Grace Ward’, [I {Vancouveria}], and wild ginger [I {(Asarum caudatum)}]. [CP][P] [XLINK “/sunset/garden/article/0,20633,1550822,00.html” “[B {Spring-flowering bulbs}]”] Plant alliums, chionodoxa, daffodils, Dutch hyacinths, fritillaries, grape hyacinths, snowdrops [I {(Galanthus)}], snowflakes [I {(Leucojum)}], Spanish bluebells [I {(Hyacinthoides hispanica)}], spring star flower [I {(Ipheion)}], and star of Bethlehem [I {(Ornithogalum)}]. These all tend to resist disease, and pests like gophers and slugs leave them alone. [CP][P] [B {TEND YOUR PLOT}][BR] [B {Clean up}] Deadhead flowers that are still blooming, and rip out annuals and vegetables that are done. Keep fruit picked so rot doesn’t set in. Compost everything except diseased plants and weeds with flowers or seed heads. [CP][P] [B {Manage fuchsias}] Zones 4[SPECIAL_CHAR {150}]7, 17: Give plants their last feeding early in the month. Then let them wind down until just before frost, when you should bring them inside or insulate them with a thick layer of mulch for the winter. Zones 1[SPECIAL_CHAR {150}]3: Bring fuchsias into a protected, dark place for the winter (a cool basement or a frost-free garage is fine). [CP][P] [XLINK “/sunset/garden/article/0,20633,1624869,00.html” “[B {Water}]”] Until rains begin, water established plants deeply to get them ready for the winter. Most ornamentals do best in freezing weather when their roots are fully hydrated. [CP][P] [ARTICLE_IMAGE 1 L] [B {BLAZING MAPLES}][BR] In shades of scarlet, copper, and gold, Japanese maples add a burst of color to fall gardens just when many other plants are winding down. They thrive in [I {Sunset}] climate zones 2[SPECIAL_CHAR {150}]7, and most of them top out at 20 feet. [CP][P]The deeply lobed leaves of ‘Bloodgood’ and ‘Osakazuki’ (left) turn flaming red. For orange foliage, try ‘Nicholsonii’ or ‘Orangeola’. To paint your garden in golds, plant ‘Flavescens’, ‘Hogyoku’, or ‘Sango Kaku’. Give Japanese maples regular water, full sun or partial shade in mild-winter climates, and partial shade where summers are hot. [SPECIAL_CHAR {150}]Julie Chai [CP][P] [B { Fresh Dirt:}] [XLINK “http://freshdirt.sunset.com” “Get the latest tips, tricks, and planting ideas on our garden blog [SPECIAL_CHAR {187}] “] [CP]