Most of the nation is focused on tomorrow’s elections but if you want to escape the intensity and stress of the elections there are many things to be done in the fall garden.  This is a great time to replace your tender annuals with tough and colorful pansies, ornamental kale and cabbage which thrive in the cooler weather of fall and early winter.  You can grow them in container gardens or flowerbeds and they will provide perky flowers and fun colors right on through the darker and sometimes dismal weather of winter.  A pot of colorful pansies or border of cheerful pansy faces along the front sidewalk has caused me to turn many an early cold morning frown into a smile when leaving a warm house to face the shocking cold of a dark winter morning.  Transplants of pansies, kale and cabbage are readily available at your local nursery or garden center and there are hundreds of varieties offering lots of choices in colors and flower face patterns.  You can plant all one color or a nice mix to produce a smorgasboard of color.

We are now in the heart of the season to plant spring flowering bulbs like tulips, hyacinth, daffodils or narcissus, grape hyacinths, crocus, dutch iris, or allium.  Choose firm, healthy bulbs.  A good rule of thumb is that the larger the bulb, the larger or more flowers it will produce.

Most spring flowering bulbs do best in sunny areas but remember they will usually pop out of the ground and bloom before most trees leaf out in the spring.  A few of the smaller more unusual bulbs like snowdrops, trillium and anemone do best in the partial shade.  You can plant the bulbs anytime the ground is not frozen, even up into February.  The sooner you plant now, the less the bulbs will dehydrate and the sooner they will start growing roots under ground to give you a bigger show next spring.  Your nurseryman or garden center can tell you the best planting depth for the bulbs you select but generally we plant bulbs 2.5 to 3 times as deep as the height of the bulb.  A 2” tall tulip bulb would plant 5 to 6 inches deep.  Always plant with the stem side or pointed side of the bulb pointing up and the root or flatter side pointing down.  You can plant the bulbs in rows or patterns or go for a natural effect and roll or gently throw them across the ground and plant them where they land.  Bulbs make a stunning effect when planted in waves, clumps or drifts.  You should add some bone meal or super phosphate into the planting hole as you plant the bulbs to provide a good natural slow release fertilizer source to help produce a strong healthy root system on your bulb crops.

Tulips are spectacular but don’t naturalize well here so we usually have to plant new bulbs each fall to enjoy their “welcome to spring” show. Daffodils or narcissus often naturalize here and come back year after year to trumpet the arrival of spring annually with their yellow, orange or white trumpet shaped flowers.

Bulb plantings should be well watered after covering with soil to complete your planting.  Two of the most impressive things in the world are planting seeds or bulbs and then watching the miracle that unfolds as that small capsule of life produces a whole plant and a sea of spring color.



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