By Pam Erikson/Special to Langley Advance Times
As I write this, we are in the throes of true fall – winds, rain, and leaves everywhere.
But this is a great fall cleanup time with just as many jobs now as in spring.
We get many questions about the right time to do things, so here is a good list of what should be done now:
• Final cut on the lawns. The drought this past summer was tough on the grass, but we have seen our lawns come back thick and lovely with the recent rains. September and October were good months for applying winter fertilizer, but if you didn’t get that done, just be sure to think ahead to spring.
• Pruning of deciduous trees and shrubs can start now and be done right through winter. This is the best time as the sap is not running through the dormant trees.
• Dividing and replanting most perennials should be well underway, making sure to have them back in the ground before it gets too cold.
• This is an excellent time to move or plant peonies as they hate being moved when they are growing. If you are trimming back the dead foliage on peonies, be sure to cut, and not pull, the dead pieces off. Peonies hang onto their stems so if you pull, you could hurt the plant. Other perennials, like hostas, daylilies, rudbeckia, etc. pull away easily, but never do that to peonies. Such diva plants but worth the effort.
• Lilies have now turned brown so all those stems can be cut back. I leave about 2 inches of stem to show where they are – just so I don’t accidentally dig them up when planting something else.
• Rose pruning is a big debate, but I took my advice from Brad Jalbert at Select Roses as he is the king of roses, in my opinion. He advises cutting just back a little right now, then the main pruning later in early spring when the forsythia is blooming.
• All your spring bulbs like tulips, narcissus, alliums, hyacinths etc. should all have been planted now and happily settling in.
• Leaves – one of the biggest jobs. We rake up all our leaves and use them as a good mulch on more tender plants (tree peonies, around some roses, gunnera – just some examples) and the rest go onto the compost to create new soil in coming years.
Finally, as you are cleaning up, remember to start collecting some of the pruning clippings, dried seed heads, and other interesting shrubs with berries – all these will make great items for winter display, instead of going on the compost or in the chipper.
We take some big empty tubs, fill them with soil or compost, and start arranging branches, etc already – and by the end of November, the pots are full of great colour for winter and all I have to do is add a big bow at Christmas! Have a wonderful fall.
– Pam Erikson is owner of Erikson’s Daylily Gardens and Perennials
and president of the Langley Garden Club