What to do in your garden in October

Marcia Tatroe,  – September 5, 2008

[P][B {PLANT NOW}][BR] [B {Deer- and rodent-proof}] [XLINK “/sunset/garden/article/0,20633,1550822,00.html” “[B {bulbs}]”] Tired of watching your bulbs become snacks for furry gourmands? Try these, which they avoid: blue, pink, or white bluebells [I {(Hyacinthoides hispanica}] and [I {H. non-scripta)}]; daffodils; crimson drumsticks [I {(Allium sphaerocephalum)}]; white giant snowdrop [I {(Galanthus elwesii)}]; blue or white grape hyacinth; pink, purple, or white meadow saffron [I {(Colchicum)}]; white snowflake [I {(Leucojum)}]; and violet-blue ‘Spring Beauty’ squill. [CP][P] [XLINK “/sunset/garden/superpackage/0,22336,1160094,00.html” “[B {Landscape plants}]”] [I {Sunset }]climate zones 2a[SPECIAL_CHAR {150}]3b: Fall is ideal for planting hardy groundcovers, perennials, shrubs, trees, and vines. Get them in at least six weeks before the ground is expected to freeze (call your county agricultural extension for an estimate if you’re not sure); water well at planting time and then every two weeks through the winter. Spread a 6-inch layer of hay, pine needles, shredded cedar, or straw over the rootballs to help prevent frost heaving (repeated freezing and thawing of the soil, which can harm plant roots). [CP][P] [B {Low-water irises}] Small, drought-tolerant varieties are perfect for rock gardens and dry landscapes, where they’re often the first flowers to appear in late winter. Because they bloom so early, the foliage dries and can be removed by early June. Plant at least 100 to make a statement. The following irises spread into large colonies in well-drained soil that dries out in summer: yellow [I {Iris bucharica}] and [I {I. danfordiae}]; purple [I {I. histrioides}] ‘George’; and [I {I. reticulata}] ‘Cantab’ and ‘Harmony’ (both blue with yellow), ‘J.S. Dijt’ (reddish purple), ‘Natasha’ (white), and ‘Pixie’ (dark blue). [CP][P] [XLINK “/sunset/ garden/article/0,20633,1159918~1160094,00.html” “[B {Trees for fall interest}]”] For pizzazz this season and for years to come, plant ones with showy fruit such as crabapple, hawthorn, mountain ash, spindle tree [I {(Euonymus europaeus)}], and sumac. For foliage that turns shades of red in autumn, try cultivated varieties of chokecherry with purple leaves, Gambell oak [I {(Quercus gambellii)}], purple-leaf plum, smoke tree, and Wasatch maple. [CP][P] [B {TEND YOUR PLOT}][BR] [B {Care for birds}] Clean nesting material out of [XLINK “/sunset/home/article/0,20633,1674031,00.html” “birdhouses”] and rinse all surfaces with a solution of 1 part household bleach to 10 parts water. Remount houses to provide birds with winter shelter. Put out feeders, keep them full, and wash them weekly to prevent the spread of avian diseases. Rinse and fill birdbaths daily. [CP][P] [B {Clean up flower beds}] Remove seed heads from annual and perennial flowers that are diseased or have reseeded too vigorously in past years. Leave others until spring to help protect perennial crowns, create winter interest, and provide food for birds. Apply a balanced granular fertilizer, water thoroughly, and top-dress with 2 to 3 inches of compost or well-rotted manure. After the first freeze of 20[SPECIAL_CHAR {176}] or below, spread 6 inches of mulch over the beds. [CP][P] [XLINK “/sunset/garden/article/0,20633,692089,00.html.html” “[B {Fertilize}]”] Plants fed in autumn get a jump on spring. When trees begin dropping their leaves, or after a light frost, broadcast an all-purpose fertilizer on lawns, around perennials, and beneath shrubs and trees. Follow label instructions for application rates. [CP][P] [ARTICLE_IMAGE 1 L] [B {PURPLE HAZE}][BR] Meet the common elderberry’s elegant cousin: [I {Sambucus nigra}] ‘Black Lace’. Delicately cut leaves in deep violet-black are a stunning backdrop to this elderberry’s frothy, pale pink flower clusters in early summer; later, the blooms will mature into bunches of shiny black berries. The deciduous shrub, which grows 6 to 8 feet tall, is a good alternative to Japanese maple [SPECIAL_CHAR {151}] it has a graceful look but is hardy to -30[SPECIAL_CHAR {176}]. Plant before winter arrives in [I {Sunset}] climate zones 2, 3, or 10. Surround the shrub with a 3-inch layer of mulch upon planting, and water monthly through winter.[SPECIAL_CHAR {150}]Elizabeth Jardina[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]