|Volume 1 ~ Issue 11||October 21, 2009|
SHUI TIPS FROM THE EXPERT
AUTUMN IN YOUR GARDEN
The crazy feast of flowers is winding down. Sage, Lavender and Bougainvillea are still going strong but many plants are done for the year and ready for a rest. Fall is the other best time of the year for planting. Here in Southern California we have a window from now until mid December to get a head start on the planting for next year. Of course in most of the south you can actually plant anytime of the year. I have overseen housing projects that were planted in the middle of summer in Las Vegas- hot,hot,hot and the middle of winter. The problem with planting in these exteme conditions is that the shock of planting can be piled on top of desiccation to lead to what I delicately term plant mortality. I strive for a minimal number of dead plants. In Southern California we have a chance of frost hitting between December 15 and March 15. The killer with frost is that it sucks the moisture out of the plant so that it has no "blood" in its veins to sustain itself. Therefore, I usually don't recommend planting in the winter period.
There are a few reasons why a plant dies besides being planted at the wrong time but I was recently reminded of them on a project. One client called and said several plants had died and wanted to know why. When I get plants for a client they are obtained from well established nurseries that have taken good care of them so I was shocked to think that more than one or two of them didn't make it. Because I couldn't account for the person doing the planting or how they were cared for after the planting I decided to investigate further and took a few of them back to the nursery for assessment. We learned that the gardner who planted had buried the roots too low and sufficated the life out of the healthy plants. This highlights the importance of using people who really know how to do gardening to install plants. Annuals can survive under some planting abuse but if you are planting perennials, shrubs and trees I recommend that you use someone used to doing this work or have a professional oversee the project.
Besides planting there are several other things to care for your garden in this season. We want to prepare the plants for the upcoming seasons including the wind and support them with nourishment. I categorize my tasks for the garden into four general groups: Planting,Pruning, Maintaining and Fertilizing. I know each of the categories spill over into others but it gives me a sense of structure and keeps me from feeling overwhelmed by the number of possibilities if I categorize things. So here are some things you can do in the garden now.
1. Planting. In Southern California we are getting what I think is our last warm spell. When it is done you can plant winter annuals such as calendula, candytuft, Iceland poppy, nemesia, pansy, snapdragon, stock & sweet alyssum now.
Fall & winter blooming bulbs such as freesias, Shamrock, spring star flower can be put in the ground as well. For the bulbs, find a place in the foreground where the planting isn't too thick and place the bulbs. In the south, we don't have the cold weather required for some of our bulbs. Tulips in particular don't usually come back year after year and must either be replanted each year or removed after flowering and stored until next year. So if you are planning on these beauties in the spring, now is the time to put them in the refrigerator for 6-8 weeks before they can be planted for the spring show.Many of us are luck to see the return of many of these lovely plants each year. Biennials & perennials such as delphinium, English daisy, foxglove, sweet William, & viola can also be planted.
Fall is the best time to plant California native plants. You can plant them now and with little supplemental water, they will flourish and spread roots with the winter rain.
For winter vegetables, now is the time to sow seeds for beets, chard, chives, collards, kale, kohlrabi, parsnips, peas, radishes, spinach, and turnips and you can plant garlic onions & shallots.
Review garden for any missing plants & do fill in planting now.
2. Prune. The first task is to review the garden and see who is overgrown. Every year my Lion's Tail takes over a corner of the yard and right now the seed pods are feeding the birds. Soon I will trim the plant back by one foot or more to remove the dead flowers and help encourage thicker growth where it is leggy.
One of the most important jobs this season is to trim back Evergreen trees to prepare for the windy season. You want to make sure your home and garden are protected from unstable branches on your property.
If you have been removing rose's spent blooms, after this last flush, you have a choice. You may cut them back & fertilize & they may blooms once again or leave them alone to develop hips which are attractive & hold alot of vitamin C. Leaving hips helps the plant fade to dormancy & rest for the winter.
Trim back Rosemary to maintain shape. Rosemary doesn’t grow back from wood cut to the ground so only trim from the top.
3. Maintain. Seed lawn where brown spots have developed over summer or overseed Bermuda for winter lawn color. Aeration is done when a lawn starts to thatch up so much that it doesn't get the water and nutrients to its roots. Every few years to maintain good health, you should aerate the lawn. This is a good time of year to do it.
Watch out for the drying Santa Ana winds. Spread 3" mulch around Azaleas, Mexican Orange, Camellias & Gardenias to protect them from heat, taking care to keep away from trunks.
Dig, divide & replant perennials such as Fortnight Lily and Yellow Butterfly Iris. You can get a whole new crop of plants in areas that may have been bare before!
Pick alstroemeria flower, don’t cut them. Grasp each flower stem several inches above the soil and gently twist and pull upward to break the stem’s base cleanly from the rhizome. Cutting slows growth but this encourages new bud growth and flower production.
4. Fertilize. Fertilize Lawn and Groundcovers with a high nitrogen fertilizer.
If you have Bamboo, use a lawn type fertilizer on them monthly.
Start feeding Cymbidium orchids with high phosphorus, low nitrogen formula (0-10-10) now through March to get great blooms in the spring. Cymbidium orchids are among the easiest of orchids to grow and to get blooms each year.
All Palms should get one good fertilization in the fall with a 3-1-3 fertilizer.
Roses should be fed using organic fish fertilizer or commercial rose food.
Ferns should be fed once this season too with organic fish fertilizer. Many gardeners are reluctant to use fish fertilizer because of the smell. The manufacturers have worked hard to reduce the ick factor and a good shower after should take care of the rest.
This new planting project had a few "plant mortalities". I hadn't done a project in Sacramento before this job and specified a plant that was unavailable up there. Instead of getting the plant and taking it up there, I opted from a close relative. It was beautiful but it didn't make it!
This is the Hydrangea and the Shasta Daisy in all of its glory. Time to cut it all back. Perennials or annuals planted in front can take away from the bare view it will create.
Daffodil Bulbs are so wonderful. In many parts of the country they come up over again for many years even multiplying and taking over a corner of the garden. I got them to return for two years. Time to try for another spring blast!asymmetrical balance with the landscape.
Foxgloves are wonderfully beautiful biennials and perennials. They put on a great show and return for many years. Their leaves are soft and their flowers are fabulous. Watch out though - they are poisonous and I don't ususally use them in gardens with small children.
FENG SHUI IN THE GARDEN......... .....May 22 & 23, Long Island Feng Shui Institute, New York
Feng Shui is a systematic approach to understanding the principles that create the sense of harmony and balance in our surroundings. This two-day workshop focuses on how to apply the basics in Feng Shui in your landscape and garden to enhance your life.
To register contact 516-621-9898 or www.fengshuischools.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shelley Sparks is a Feng Shui Expert, Licensed Landscape Architect and Humble Gardener. Through the practices of Feng Shui and Landscape Design she creates Harmony, Healing, Prosperity and Beneficial Qualities to her client's home, business and garden environments. She believes that as we bring our environments into balance we live happier healthier more abundant lives, benefit all that we relate to and help heal the earth.
She has been licensed as a Landscape Architect for more than 25 years and has designed award winning residential landscapes. She is a disciple of His Holiness Master Lin Yun Rinpoche, Grand Master of Black Sect Tantric Buddhist Sect of Feng Shui and has been studying Feng Shui for more than sixteen years. She teaches Garden as a Healing Space and Feng Shui and Feng Shui in the Garden for U.C.L.A. and other venues throughout the United States. She analyzes Feng Shui for people's homes, businesses and gardens.
Shelley Sparks, Principal
12224 Addison Street, Valley Village, Ca 91607
Phone (818) 505-9783
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