Now is the time to make your annual garden notes – Jamestown Sun


Now that we’ve officially entered the fall season, the days are getting shorter at an accelerating pace and we’re retiring from outdoor activities and heading indoors. The gardens will soon be going through frosts in the near future and much of the preparation for winter will begin. However, this is also the time to take stock of the garden and document any projects and activities you plan to undertake during the next growing season.

John Zvirovski.jpg

John Zvirovski, editor of the Jamestown Sun Garden

John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

That doesn’t mean you have to work the coming year, but make efficient plans so you have more time to relax when the warm weather returns. I like to call it a garden diary, but I really don’t have a real diary, just a pad of paper and a camera.

A camera can be your best reminder of the events that happened in your garden over the past year. It’s the best way to document which colors go well together, which plants are small or tall, which annuals you bought, and how well your garden did (or didn’t) last season. I don’t know about the others but I can hardly remember where all the spring onions are planted in the garden as they disappear from sight in June. However, I took lots of pictures while they bloomed so I know where NOT to dig to plant new ones. If you already have over 2,000 spring bulbs in the garden, these are very important documents if you want to plant more plants or plant more perennials.

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Pictures show you where perennials are planted and how they perform in each of the four seasons, including winter, where some can be a great source of ornaments or food for wildlife. For example, purple flame grass begins as a thin clump of grass in spring and grows into a full thicket of green stalks in summer. By the end of summer it produces large, feathery seed heads that gracefully wave in the wind from 4 to 6 feet tall. Once fall arrives, the leaves turn yellow or orange to brighten up an area of ​​the garden where many other colors have faded. Their stems stand tall during the winter season, and their dry culms and seed heads make a rustling noise during the winter winds.

Ornamental cabbage is an annual plant that has a striking appearance at any time of the year. It starts out in late spring as a small thin plant of very little value. During the summer it forms a nice full head similar to cabbage growth with its open, ruffled leaf margins. They are thick, squat, and green for most of the growing season, only increasing in size. When the warm weather has passed and cool temperatures dominate, the centers begin to glow in tones of white, pink and magenta. These colors will last through Thanksgiving and sometimes beyond as they are very cold tolerant. During the winter they start to look wilted but still retain a unique effect as the snow slowly overtakes them. When the snow is gone, the plant crumbles back into the ground almost to dust.

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Rearranging your perennials in spring is best for most plants, as they have all summer to adjust. Document which ones need to be moved and where you plan to place them. These notes and images are a great source of information when you have some free time during the winter to come up with a new plan.

If you’re looking at projects that will take some time and cost a little more money, take stock and measure now. This gives you nearly six months to plan out the materials you’ll need and create a comfortable budget to work with when the time comes. Expenses add up very quickly when spring arrives and you make rush purchases because you didn’t take the time to plan something better ahead of time. Some of these projects can be a new patio, gazebo, bridge, cobblestone path or small pond. Whatever the project, they all need good planning and cost-efficiency. There are often clearance sales at this time of year for companies selling this season’s merchandise, some of which are best bought now.

Maybe some areas in the garden need a new layer of mulch. Start figuring out how many bags or cubic feet you need and write it down. Once spring arrives, you’ll already have the plan ready along with the type of mulch product you want, and you can buy your products when an offer arrives without feeling rushed. Good planning now will save you money in the long run.

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Some other last minute measures you might still consider this fall would be pruning your peony and iris plants as abandoning their vegetation in winter can cause rot and disease. If you have new trees that have been staked for at least a year, this is also the time to remove those stakes to allow the tree to strengthen over the winter and withstand normal conditions from that point forward. It promotes a stronger and healthier tree.

When the weather is nice, grab a camera, pen and pad of paper and start creating your garden inventory. You’ll be amazed at how quickly the list grows as you go through the garden thoroughly. Once the spring season arrives, you’ll be very glad you took the extra effort to make the New Year a little more enjoyable, relaxing, and cost-effective with a little advance planning.

We may have seen slightly cooler temperatures now, but we still have some pretty nice weeks ahead of us to enjoy outside. Look on the bright side – each year seems to go by faster than the last, which means the winter season will go by just as quickly.





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