Gardening expert Janness Abraham highlights the not-so-terrible effects our summer heat had on plants, how to achieve beautiful fall and winter pots, and what you can do now to ensure next year’s garden is your best yet.
Gardening as Seasons Change
Dealing with Summer’s Wrath
The summer of 2012 was the hottest summer on record in our region. Gardeners throughout the country, especially the Midwest, have become frustrated with the damage the heat has done to their gardens. Many shrubs and perennials in our gardens have trouble with the constant 100-degree days. Watering helped somewhat, but the rainfalls are what have really given some plants a much-needed boost.
Forever Gardens has every possible garden situation — full shade, wet shade, dry shade, part shade, full sun and part sun. What I discovered is, although a plant does well in full sun, it does not mean it will do well in full sun with constant 100-degree days! Some of the perennials that I thought the heat had killed, however, are now coming back as they do in spring. If you are frustrated with the effect the heat has had on your plants, take heart in knowing that they will more than likely survive. As the weather cools, many perennials have been perking up. It is very important to continue watering all of your plants throughout the fall season until there is a hard frost.
Refresh Pots for Winter
As the weather cools, and the annuals in your pots fade and get hit from the frost, you can decorate your pots for fall, the holidays and through the winter season. Simply add some ornamental cabbage or kale to the pots, which will last until a hard frost. The fall pot (pictured) has two different types of ornamental cabbage and a trellis. Depending on the weather, these plants could last throughout the winter, if we have a mild one.
Another idea is to gather pine branches, red twig dogwood, birch, and any other colorful or interesting branches to add interest to the pot. If you have access to them, pinecones and Osage orange look great at the base of the arrangement. If you do not have colorful branches, you could cut branches and spray paint them. For my fall and winter arrangement, I used white pine, boxwood, arborvitae, hydrangea, ivy, pokeweed (black berries/fuchsia stems) and Solomon’s seal (blue berries). Most of these will last throughout the winter. Around Christmas, I usually add some holiday decorations to the pot, or spray paint some branches white or gold (top).
This is the time of the year to make notes on how your garden grew this year. Are there areas that are in need of a makeover? Are there plants that just didn’t work and you would like to toss them, but you do not know what to replace them with? Believe it or not, now is the time to think about what you liked and disliked about your garden this year to plan for next year. A good way to record garden issues is to take some photos of the good, the bad and the ugly and make notes for changes that can be made in the spring. n
>> Janness Abraham, owner of Forever Gardens in Crystal Lake, has been helping clients improve their outdoor spaces for 21 years. For more, call 815-459-3877 or visit www.forevergardens.com.