Annual Living Art Show

The deciduous trees and shrubs have been putting on their annual living art show the last couple of weeks as the leaves and entire tree canopies march from green through tones of yellow, bronze, orange, almost purple and shades of red. 

 

Instead of talking about photosynthesis, carotenoids and anthocyanins and how we get these spectacular but fleeting shows of fall color, just get outside and enjoy the ever changing chorus of fall color while it lasts.  Enjoy the bright yellows of the poplars, walnuts and honey locusts or soak in the reds of the Bradford pears and many varieties of colorful maples.  Every tree has its own fall fashion show and many people select trees for their yard or properties with fall color as one of the key selection criteria.  If fall foliage is important to you, watch the trees in your neighborhood that you like, identify them or take a few leaves to your local nurseryman.  Purchase and plant the trees you desire to paint the fall color you want in your landscape.  Fall is the second season for planting so this is a great time to plant new trees and shrubs in your yard so that they can “root in” to their new home before next spring.  You can plant container grown or larger “balled and burlapped” trees and shrubs up until the ground freezes later this winter. 

 

As we enjoy the festival of autumn color on our trees and shrubs at this time of year we can plant the many kinds of spring flowering bulbs now to get a festival of early spring color next  March and April from crocus, grape hyacinths, tulips, daffodils, hyacinth, and many lesser known spring bulbs.  Now is a great time to plant all these bulbs so they can grow underground through the winter and will be ready to spring from the ground next spring to announce the end of winter and the arrival of spring.  Visit with your local nurseryman for help on planting depth and bulb spacing but we generally plant the bottom of the bulb from 3” to 8” underground with the growing tip planted up.  The smaller bulbs like crocus are planted shallower and the bigger bulbs like tulips or daffodils are planted deeper.   Smaller bulbs usually make smaller plants and smaller flowers so they are spaced more closely together to make an impact while larger bulbs generally produce larger plants and flowers and can be spaced further apart.  A bark or hull mulch of 2” to 3” over the soil surface helps produce the best bulb beds but you should take that into account as part of your planting depth.  Spring flowering bulbs need 6 to 15 weeks of cold to prepare for their big spring premiere.  They will use the winter to grow roots and vernalize so they are ready to perform when the temperatures warm up and the days lengthen next spring.  In Oklahoma most tulips and hyacinth are a one year show, as they rarely naturalize here.  Daffodils or narcissus are a great choice in Oklahoma because they most often will naturalize and come back year after year, often growing in clump size, as long as they are planted in a well drained soil. Don’t forget to try some of the lesser known spring flowering bulbs like allium (flowering onions), anemone, ranunaculus, chionodoxa, aconite, snowdrops and Scilla. 

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