The end of summer is here. So it’s time to think about the long season of gardening ahead and even take stock of this year’s triumphs and failures.
The first and easiest thing to do is to look around and see what has done well during this stressful season. Did some bedding plants perform well under usual care? Or did you have to hover over them with a watering can to keep them from wilting in the blazing sun? Did you plant your leaf lettuce so late it burned up and tasted bitter before you harvested very much? Did the shrubs you planted in June simply not make it through the boiling days of July?
Such are the lessons of plant selection, placement and the timing of planting. Most of the time these are lessons we only have to learn one time, such as planting impatiens in the harsh glare of afternoon summer sun instead of in the shade with just a touch of mild morning light. And anyone who has been disappointed with lettuce needs only to remember to sow it in early spring, not late spring, in the Piedmont.
Whether the results were good or bad, take time now to jot down your impressions for reminders next year at planting time.
Gardeners may set out sun-loving shrubs in the glory days of March and April in the firm belief that they’re in the right spot. Then the tree leaves come out, casting too much shade. The bad news is that it is probably too much shade for the shrubs.
The good news is that they can be transplanted this fall without harm. The roots may only have just begun to grow, and you can move the plant easily to a place with the right amount of sun or shade. If you are inclined to move anything, fall and winter are the best times for fresh root development without the stress of growth.
In most cases, a root-stimulating fertilizer at planting time is highly beneficial to woody plants as they settle down in their new position.
A final thing to consider: Have plants outstayed their usefulness? Are they too much work?
I cannot tell you how often people tell me about the ceaseless pruning they must do to a vigorous evergreen to keep it in bounds. Ask yourself: Is it time to replace this plant with another plant whose mature size will suit the position? If so, there are many weeks ahead to shop garden centers for the right replacement.