By Kathleene Crane
As summer comes to an end, fall will come knocking at your door. Looks like the time has arrived to start thinking of prepping your garden for the cooler months. Why not take advantage of the cold weather and plant a fall garden? This task isn't as difficult as it originally appears to be. In fact when it comes to gardening there are many advantages cool weather offers. Fall means fewer insects, less watering and less sweating while working in your garden, just to name a few. But fall is also associated with trees' transformation, colours like brown, yellow, red and orange. Why not incorporate some of these in your garden to capture the essence of the season? Here we offer several fall gardening advices, as well as a few container maintenance suggestions.
Before we jump to the container maintenance, we will give you with some hints in regard with what you should actually plant in the containers themselves. You should pick your container flowers and plants carefully as many species are simply not fit for growing in a container. Don't forget you should choose plants which can actually survive several light frosts, otherwise they won't stand a chance in your garden. A few suggestions – plant pansies, aster, cone-flowers, bergenias and some New Zealand flaxes. All of these are fall garden staples and can withstand harsher temperatures. Not to mention how beautiful they look!
Find Some Vintage Containers
Now that you have selected what to plant, you should prep the containers themselves. There are plenty of containers in the gardening store, all of them catchy and stylish, but if you don't feel like spending extra money on buying new ones you can make some yourself with what you have available at home. Here's a fresh idea for you: if you have any old tea kettles you can repaint them in bright colours that match the season and plant it them. Just make sure you drill a few drainage holes, though, to avoid the rotting of your flowers' roots. The same effect can be achieved by using old watering cans, biscuits or coffee tins, colanders and even big enough vases. This vintage style will be stunning!
You have selected your fall flowers and found some cool containers. Now it's time to plant! But be careful how you combine your plants and plant only flowers that complement one another in the same container. An example of a perfect container combination would be to partner bergenias with red pansies and dogwood – the red pansies will complement the tall bergenias wonderfully while the dogwood would bring in some additional colour and shape. Another nice idea is to pair creamy or pink New Zealand flax with some Imperial Antique pansies in similar colours – these tones will definitely cheer you up in the colder months.
Be Careful with Maintenance
Needless to say the change of season affects your gardening routines and maintenance. It would be a good idea to quit using liquid fertilisers since it might encourage the growth of flowers that are unable to withstand lower temperatures and this of coarse will cause them to freeze and wither. That's why you should let things go naturally. Also keep in mind fall container flowers can be watered until the soil freezes completely – flowers need a good drink of water before they prepare themselves for winter sleep.
Bare in mind container flowers require some serious grooming. You should prune them regularly to prevent the foliage from collapsing. Any withered foliage which ends up in the container should be disposed of right away as it may become nourishment for caterpillars and other pests that are damaging to your flowers and plants. So make sure you remove all dead leaves from the base of the plant. Withered leaves should sometimes be removed even while they are still hanging on the flower as they continue to consume nutrients and water intended for the live plant.
As you can see a fall container garden requires a good amount of knowledge and responsibility. However, the task isn't beyond your abilities, trust us. Follow these suggestions and you will enjoy the colour and fragrance of your garden long after the summer has come to an end.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kathleen Crane is a writer and the founder of GardenersMates, E14.