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Get gardening: Savouring until the end-of-season

Get a head start on next year's blooms and enjoy your garden well into the fall

Fall is in the air, and while some of your summer favourites may be starting to fade, now is the perfect time to add late bloomers to your beds and get bulbs and shrubs in for next season.

Spring into action

If you love the sight of tiny shoots creeping through the snow in spring, now is the time to act. Shopping for spring bulbs in the fall will ensure you get the best selection and give them a chance to take root before enduring the harsh winter weather.

In general, spring-flowering bulbs should be planted about six weeks before the ground freezes. Early blooming bulbs, such as crocuses, daffodils and snowdrops, will do best if they’re buried by late summer. If you spend one too many months lounging on your patio, fret not. Late bloomers, like tulips, can be planted through October and November or until the ground freezes.

Tip: If you must store bulbs before planting, store them in a tray filled with peat moss in a dry, dark place to prevent mold or mildew.

Late bloomers

If your garden suffers from the end of season blahs, perk it up with these late-season gems. Annuals, like snapdragons, icicle pansies, decorative cabbages or kales add bursts of colour around plants that change colour with the season. With perennials, such as chrysanthemums, Joe–pye weed, helenium, Japanese anemones, smooth asters and turtlehead, you get a jump-start on the next season.

Resource: Check out Flower-gardening-made-easy.com for tips on planting these delayed darlings.

Refresh your containers

When your chrysanthemums start to wither, it’s time for something new. For multi-layered large containers, flank ornamental grasses such as maiden grass or silver grass with ornamental kales and trailing English ivy. If your containers are small, icicle pansies are the blossoms of choice. Try clustering black and orange for a Halloween theme, or select from many other colour combinations to add a rainbow to your yard. Best of all, icicles pansies are capable of overwintering when planted in the fall.

Trees and shrubs

End-of-season sales are great for those investing in trees and shrubbery. Fall is also a good time to plant many species of woody plants because moisture is usually plentiful and roots have a chance to get a head start on the next growing season before the ground freezes up.

Tips:

· Plant evergreens, such as white pine, spruce, cedar or yew when the first deciduous trees start to turn colour.
· Plant deciduous trees after the first hard frost.
· Avoid planting the following trees in fall (they do better when planted in the spring): magnolia, red maple, birch, dogwood, beech, mountain ash, tulip, yellowwood, white oak, hemlock, larch and Austrian pine.

A quick note about fall cleanup

Fall is often the most pleasant time to sit outside and enjoy your grounds, because the weather is mild and the insects are gone—so don’t rush to prune back your perennials. Not only do the leafy greens keep your beds looking lush, they are also important to the plants’ survival. If the leaves are still green, they continue to photosynthesize and store energy in their roots for next year’s growth.

And while you may be anxious to deadhead everything, remember seed heads of plants such as rudbeckia and coneflower provide food for migrating birds. Once the hard frost arrives, you can cut your garden down and clean up if you need to have it neat through the winter.

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