by Pam Erikson/Special to the Langley Advance
The rain dance worked.
The long hot summer has been tough on people, plants, and gardens. But the recent rains are definitely allowing gardeners to get back out and play.
At this time of year, the perennials are starting to look tired, the annuals are getting leggy, and it’s time to start the fall cleanup.
With the cleanup also comes the joy of planning and preparing for next spring – always keeping in mind what you need to plant in the fall that you can enjoy in the early part of spring.
Most important to get planted by mid-October are the spring bulbs – daffodils, tulips, alliums, and hyacinths to name a few.
There are a myriad of different varieties and bloom times – check out all your local nurseries to see what they have to offer.
Each year, the breeders of bulbs in Holland introduce new varieties to add to our gardens.
The small species tulips that only grow between four- and eight-inches tall are also very popular for planting in borders as they naturalize easily and produce wonderful early spring colour.
We say this a lot, but planning where you are going to grow your bulbs is just as important as what varieties you plant.
We always suggest that you group your spring bulbs in between and around other perennials.
The bulbs will come up and flower normally much earlier than perennials, allowing them to be the stars of the garden for a while.
When the blooms are finished, you must leave the foliage there to allow the bulb to feed and replenish itself for next year – this foliage can look messy and unkempt, but as the other perennials grow, they will actually hide the decaying bulb foliage allowing your garden to look nice and clean and at the same time allowing the bulbs to regenerate.
While daffodils and tulips are always big sellers, consider other bulbs for something different.
Those who grew alliums this summer have commented to me on how fabulous the seedheads are looking right now – one of the main reasons we grow them.
A few people have dried them and used them for decoration in their Christmas trees, either naturally or gently spray painted in gold and silver.
For those who have never grown anemones, there is a new variety called Bordeaux that produces stunning deep burgundy blooms on 18-inch stems.
Anemones bulbs are quite unusual – often referred to looking like ‘cat poo’. Indeed, the bulbs are tiny little brown pieces that do actually resemble something from the litter box.
But simply soak those little pieces in water for about a half hour before planting and next spring they will produce beautiful results.
I would be remiss in not mentioning hyacinths as a great bulb. Many of them are grown indoors in the winter in order to fill the house with fragrance, but I find the scent a little too heady for me, so ours are happily in the garden.
Variegated varieties, such as Rembrandt, are striking in any garden. And planted with mini daffodils, they paint a cheery spring picture.
Fall may be garden clean up time, but it is also time to dream of next year – that is what gets us gardeners through the winter.
– Pam Erikson is owner of Erikson’s Daylily Gardens and Perennials
and president of the Langley Garden Club