Posts Tagged ‘fall’

How To Make Room For Indoor Plants

Houseplants tucked indoors for the winter

Houseplants tucked indoors for the winter, on a sunny table.

Hey, plantaholics, it’s the winter-time crunch again. Hard frosts are on the horizon and you have to haul your (possibly vast) collection of houseplants indoors for the winter. In my case, being a bit of a plantaholic, my plant pile always seems to multiply over the summer. Between taking cuttings, buying new specimens, and potting-up into larger containers, there’s always more at the end of the season than at the beginning. Sadly the indoor space doesn’t magically get bigger at the end to make room for all these new recruits. What to do?

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Fall Colour: Sumac

tiger eyes sumac

If you can pick a bright, overcast day to walk around in the fall, the changing colours on deciduous trees and shrubs simply glow. Hazy, bright light, with no direct sunshine allows the colours to pop. That’s the kind of day it was when I saw this splendid ‘Tiger Eye’ Sumac. It was like a beacon, summoning me to it! One of the things I like about the colour change is that the change is gradual and progressive, so that multiple colours blend together all at once. That effect is particularly noticeable on this sumach, where the red-orange, orange and bright yellow seamlessly blend into the chartreuse green, mixing and mingling to delightful effect.

This cultivar of sumach only grows to six feet and is less likely to sucker (spread from roots) than the native version. It will grow in full sun, or take some partial shade, and is drought resistant, always a bonus. Its normal colour is a bright chartreuse, a popular colour these days, adding lightness and contrasting well with its dark bark and any surrounding darker leaves. The finely cut leaves also provide an interesting texture addition to your garden.

Ornamental Grasses Add Movement to the Garden

That ornamental grasses catch the breezes and sway in the wind is one of the best reasons to have them in the garden. Daisies, while pretty, just stay put. Grasses move, adding a fourth dimension to the garden—movement through time—showing off whenever the wind kicks up. Ornamental grasses are low-maintenance, and their texture and  year-round colour, especially in the winter, is another plus. Winter interest of ornamental grasses is one of the single best reasons to add grasses to your garden, whether they are glowing copper in a winter sun, or arched over and covered in snow. Things to remember when considering grasses:

  • full sun is usually needed for most tall, vertical grasses like ‘Karl Foerster’ (Calamagrostis acutiflora)
  • part sun is fine for hakonechloa grass (Japanese Forest Grass)
  • grasses look best when planted in larger groups, of at least three clumps
  • grasses are part of the new, naturalistic style of garden, popularized by designer Piet Oudolf
  • grasses have mounding, vertical or fan-like shapes, consider these shapes in your garden design
  • grasses pair well with flowering perennials, like rudbeckia, coneflower, ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum, and many others

Ornamental Grass: Texture & Frills

miscanthus grass

Miscanthus sinensis seed heads forming soft curls in November.

One of the best ornamental grasses is the large, graceful Miscanthus, whose foliage and textured flower heads changes throughout the growing season. In mid summer, the flower heads flopped from side to side in the wind, like heavy straight hair.

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Bulb Planting: X Marks The Spot


The problem: remembering where you planted those bulbs last year. In the fall, your spring bulbs lie dormant and hidden underneath the soil, with no way of knowing where the heck they are. The sickening feeling of  having your shovel or spade pierce a bulb you’ve previously planted is one you want to avoid. Plus, you want to make sure you have spaced your bulbs around, so you have some spring colour everywhere.

One way of marking, is the traditional plant label. Every time you plant bulbs, add a label. This works in theory, but labels can get lost, or the words fade, so you might fail with this method. You also might not like labels sticking up all over your garden.

This is where the handy digital camera becomes part of your garden tool set. It’s great for documenting anything garden related. (I take pictures of all my plant tags on newly purchased plants, too). This year, I took pictures of the spots where I planted my bulbs: a quick snap of the package cardboard photo of the bulbs I’ve just planted, and I’ll never forget what I planted where. Remember to include some recognizable part of the garden when you take your ID shot. I made sure to get a large planter in my shot, to help me locate the bulbs. Next year when I’m adding to my bulb collection, I’ll have these pics to refer to, and know not to dig there.