Monday, October 20, 2008

Fall planting

It took me a while to learn about the advantages of fall planting. Everybody plants in the spring, right? As consumers, especially in the mainstream outlets, like Lowes and Home Depot, fall gardening is touched upon briefly before their inventories are shoved aside to make way for Christmas decorations. The rush of excitement as spring approaches among winter weary gardeners is just not as powerful as the fall season when we are led to believe that our gardens are going into sleep mode.

In the South especially, fall planting (of shrubs, trees and perennials) can be very beneficial. The reasoning behind this is that their roots get a head start during the fall and winter months before active growth in the spring begins. As our growing season seems to be increasingly hotter and dryer, the plants don't have to work as much to gain a stronghold. Southern gardeners rarely have to deal with ground heaving and other problems that northern gardeners have so, as long as you can keep critters from digging them up, plants can be planted, mulched, watered and they are on their way.

I have found that plants purchased by mail order seem to have a better chance at survival when planted in the fall. This year I've placed a few orders and it is exciting to receive boxes of plants in the mail (or at least I think so).

The box pictured above arrived a few days ago from Lazy S Farm Nursery. I've ordered from this nursery in the past and I can't recommend them highly enough. They have an incredible selection of plants and they have lots of rare selections that are difficult to find. I ordered several epimediums from them this year. I'm working with a difficult area with dry shade and I've discovered that epimediums are very good in this situation. I also ordered some plants from them that they recommend for dry shade (like pachysandra procumbens).

Another great plant for dry shade are hellebores. This year I ordered the Sunshine Selection, hybridized by Barry Glick at Sunshine Farm and Gardens.

Sunlight Gardens, which I confuse with the previously mentioned nursery, is one in Andersonville, Tennessee that I've wanted to try for some time now. I finally placed an order with them this year and was impressed with the quality of their plants and their packaging. Among my finds there were the clematis "Durandii", baptisia "Purple Smoke" and ironweed, a stunning purple wildflower that I first saw in Randy and Jamie's garden.

I have a tendency to go overboard when ordering. I go to the website or catalog with one plant in mind and end up buying a lot more. But it is a lot of fun (until I check my bank account). So don't be afraid of fall planting. Prepare your planting sites in advance if possible and keep the plants well watered until the really cold temperatures set in. Rain is usually plentiful during the winter months and moisture tends to remain in the ground longer than the summer months. One more tip - it is advisable to mark your plants after they are in the ground so you won't dig them up accidentally next spring!

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