Out with the old, in with the new in colorful October

Katsura is beautiful during the fall.

Katsura is beautiful during the fall.

By Steve Smith

Of all the seasons fall is my favorite and October is when it all starts to happen.

There is a crispness in the air, new vibrant colors on the trees, fresh growth on our summer dormant lawns, mums and asters in full bloom, pumpkins and

gourds everywhere, fresh rainfall, colorful berries, and of course pansies and violas. I have started to clean out my summer annuals and veggies to prep the ground for some fall color and hardy veggies like garlic, broccoli and shallots. There is a certain catharsis in pulling out all those overgrown annuals and mildew-ridden squash plants and plunging in a few spring-blooming bulbs and some pansies over the top. It’s a fresh look that will entertain me for the next six months. October is the month to plant your bulbs.

My containers get an overhaul as well. As much as I hate to part company with my 8-feet-tall red bananas, and equally as tall Egyptian papyrus, they just seem out of place on a frosty morning – so they’re headed to the compost pile. Canna lilies will be dug up, hosed off, divided and then stored in 15-gallon nursery pots where they will be covered with damp newsprint and kept in a cool greenhouse where they won’t freeze. Cannas in the ground simply need to be mulched, and they will be fine for the winter. Papyrus and red bananas will never make it through winter, so give them the heave ho.

For the rest of my yard I mostly let it go to sleep naturally: leaving the perennials to set seed for the birds; blowing the leaves off my driveway and into the beds to supply nutrients and insulation; and putting balanced organic fertilizer on the lawn. I mow it an inch higher than I did in summer. AndI I drain the hoses and put away the patio furniture.

As for the garden center, there are also lots of changes that take place in October. For starters, many of the tired summer blooming shrubs and perennials are moved to the back where we hope to clear them out at half price. October is when conifers and broadleaf evergreens take front stage with their coats of many colors. “Carsten’s Winter Gold” mugo pine is already showing its winter gold highlights as is the coveted “Chief Joseph” lodge pole pine. Conifers come in

an array of colors from green to blue, yellow, orange and plum.

The same can be said for several broadleaf evergreens, like Leucothoe and Nandina. These shrubs take on an incredible color change when the nights get cool, changing from boring green to shades of bronze and dazzling red. There are even some perennials, like Bergenia and Wintergreen, that sport a new personality during the dark months of winter. Planting a few of these in containers is a great way to keep the garden interesting.

October also marks the reintroduction of winter heather, rhodies, and camellias, all of which have their buds set for spring and in the case of heather,

are actually blooming with some color that will persist for almost six months.

Pieris “Passion Frost” is another broadleaf evergreen shrub that is covered with buds in October that will finally open to blooms in February and March. Between Camellias, rhodies, and Pieris, the sight of these buds gives me so much hope and anticipation for spring that it makes the end of summer seem somewhat irrelevant.

October ushers in lots of changes for gardeners. Take advantage of the scattered sunny days and embrace the change.

Steve Smith is the owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached at info@sunnysidenursery.net

Chief Joseph.

Chief Joseph.

Fall is the time for hardy vegetables.

Fall is the time for hardy vegetables.

More in Business

New luxury pre-owned car dealership opens in Marysville

MARYSVILLE – North Marysville’s auto row just added a touch of luxury… Continue reading

Before and after photographs of the fire and nature’s recovery at Steve Smith’s house. (Courtesy Photos)
Nature’s healing powers: You can’t even tell there was a fire anymore

By Steve Smith As the season winds down and the garden is… Continue reading

So many benefits to a ‘real’ Christmas tree

By Steve Smith As gardeners, the concept of “going natural” is nothing… Continue reading

More new goodies to be looking for in 2020

By Steve Smith Back in September, I introduced you to several new… Continue reading

A hardy fall container.
Garden list of things to do this month

By Steve Smith Here’s an all-in-one-place list of chores for the month.… Continue reading

It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature, but do it anyway to have flowers during winter

By Steve Smith As the temperature drops, along with all the leaves… Continue reading

Planting bulbs now can bring you beautiful flowers like tulips and daffodils later on. (Courtesy Photo)
Bulbs: Mother Nature’s little anti-depressants

By Steve Smith The dark season is upon us, and it seems… Continue reading

You can have a fun bud-blooming time this winter

By Steve Smith First off, I suspect you would like an explanation… Continue reading

From left, Fahlman, Nehring, Pierce and Craven
Business Summit talks about future of Cascade Industrial Center

MARYSVILLE – If you want the Cascade Industrial Center to be a… Continue reading

Globe 3rd in state for general excellence

MARYSVILLE – The Marysville Globe placed third in the largest circulation category… Continue reading

A geranium. (Courtesy Photo)
Don’t let begonias be bygones; save them until spring

By Steve Smith With the mercury dipping into the low 30s I… Continue reading

Mums in fall. (Courtesy Photos)
Out with the old, in with the new in colorful October

By Steve Smith Of all the seasons fall is my favorite and… Continue reading