Second Planting Season
We have the perfect weather for the second planting season of the year. The soil is warm, the air is cool enough to make working in the garden, dividing and planting, a joy. Many of the better nurseries have some new plants, and lots of others are selling things off.
Spring and summer blooming plants can be divided right now. Wait until spring to divide summer and autumn flowering plants.
Divide irises and move them around. Get an old knife and whack them into bits and plant each section with some of the corm just above the ground so the sun hits them.
Invading hordes of lily beetle chewed up lilies and this is such a good time to divide what you’ve got left. Plant them as you do any bulbs: in nice big clumps so they make a dashing effect. Daylilies can be divided now as well.
Peonies often considered fussy by some, really aren?t. Cut them back and then dig up the whole root system. Get out the trusty knife and make fairly large chunks each with 3 to 5 eyes on them: this is where the new stems will come from. Plant shallowly so that the eyes are just barely below the surface. Plant deeply and you?ll have no blooms at all.
Dividing up hostas is a tough one: some are so big they will take at least two people, two sharp shovels and a lot of backbreaking work. Don?t bother unless you have to. It can wait for spring. Just cut back on some of the worst looking foliage.
Time to go back to the nursery and have a look at what they are offering. Use new plants to fill blank areas in the garden. Plant as usual, but then cut off the blooming stalks to about 15cm above ground so the plant concentrates on making a hefty root system. It really is sensible to do this but I must say I can never do this, I want to enjoy anything that blooms its head off.
My favourite autumn perennials right now:
- Toad lilies (Trycertis spp) look like miniature orchids and make gorgeous clumps and the small new forms with golden foliage are spectacular;
- any aster in any form and any colour;
- and Boltonia asteroides, a huge white froth of bloom. Makes you smile just to look at it.
- Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium spp) has many versions from the 1M ?Little Joe? to giants of 5M (check those labels). Butterflies love this plant. It?s also one that you can dig up from your own country property and know it will grow easily in town.
You can buy huge pots of asters and mums if you have large holes in the garden and need a specific splash of colour. These plants will usually return so don?t just dump them in, place them properly and give them lots of water.
At this time of year you want that last gasp of summer to be lush and filled with scent. Don?t forget to take pictures so you can see where you want to put new things next spring. The most wonderful thing about gardening is you can always change your mind.