A GROWING CONCERN: Don’t give up gardening too soon in season

IF YOU READ my slogan at the end of each article, then you know I dream of Olympic Peninsula being recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA”.

This summer, marked by record-breaking warm temperatures, is finally over as fall officially begins this week. In theory, many of you already believe that summer was over the day after Labor Day.

There is a general sigh, and the rakes and tillers are drawn out and prepared for the soon clean and tidy cleaning of the yard.

Many people talk about the memories of summer and all the things they will be doing next year – when the nice weather returns. But the best days to love your garden can be now.

In an area blessed with extremely temperate weather like ours, this statement works any time of the year.

Butchart Gardens north of Victoria, BC will not reduce its hours (or admission price) after Labor Day. In fact, it boosts plantings, tours, and lectures.

If one wants to take full advantage of year-round gardening and make the most of our excellent weather, fall is the time to begin the process.

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The most important thing you need to do is recalibrate your mindset (and plant ornamental cabbage and cabbage, of course).

If you can see fall and even winter as great opportunities to include plants like holly, heather, viola, artemisia, sedum, grasses, sage, rosemary, ivy, speedwell, and pansies (to name a few), then you will come to create a seamless garden of immense beauty all year round.

Your own thoughts and ideas for mixing textures and heights with bloom and color will create wonderful ornamental beds.

time of renewal

Fall will not be the time for raking and composting, but rather another phase of this ongoing process.

Allow me to incorporate my own thoughts and realities into this argument.

I know this is the best place to grow ornamental plants in all of North America.

If you have flowers and plants in your house, you know that too.

I also know that every city, home, corporate office and park looks great in summer.

It’s the time when everyone thinks they can – and almost have to – plant flowers.

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But most also believe that now is the time to give up slash-and-burn and reset next year’s budget.

From Memorial Day to Labor Day, any place can be Flower City USA, but very few even make the playoffs from September to April.

I also believe that a consistent message full of facts and helping hands can inspire people to try it.

I believe this message, multiplied by numerous individual actions, can encourage businesses and neighbors alike to plant flowers and other ornamental plants (think kale and cabbage).

For me it is the “Christmas Lights Syndrome”.

A neighbor puts on an awesome light show, talks to the neighbors, shares helpful tips and resources, and boom, a few more homes will be lit up next year. You are the boss!

Nobody knows your color preferences, styles and desires like you do.

No one knows the nuances of your garden, the subtle changes in temperature, the lines of shadow and sun, or your soil’s ability to hold moisture.

You are the master gardener of your garden.

Fall is the time of year to declare beginning.

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This would be heavily emphasized over the next few weeks – as the performance of your plants next year will be largely based on the actions you take from now through January.

Every season is a time to hit the plant shop, and now no more.

That ends the long advertisement for ornamental kale, collards, pansies and other fall plantings.

Now go to the garden store, choose enough plants of different sizes, shapes and leaf colors and plant those babies if you are thinking of design.

In March people will still ask you about your “secret”.

With that, enjoy the fact that you have created a year-round flower spot on the North Olympic Peninsula, “Flower Peninsula USA”.

And of course… stay healthy everyone!


Andrew May is a freelance writer and ornamental gardener who dreams of Clallam and Jefferson counties being recognized nationally as the “Flower Peninsula USA”. Send him questions c/o Peninsula Daily News, PO Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email [email protected] (Subject line: Andrew May).

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