The world is a golden dream in Winnipeg right now. Showers of sunshiny leaves swirl in every breeze as the trees shed their leafy burden in frenzy this year. It is hard to believe that it was only a week ago that our world changed its dress from summer green to bronze and yellow.
Fall is the second garden season
It feels good to be back in the garden after the lazy summer hiatus. There is so much to do now.
This is a good time to put in trees and shrubs. You can plant perennials now and of course, spring-blooming bulbs and tubers. Many nurseries will have the perennials on sale to avoid having to over winter them, and there is nothing more heartening after a bitter winter than the blaze of spring colour when the tulips and daffodils come out.
This is also a good time to divide perennials. If you have noticed that they are putting out less bloom, especially toward the centre, then that’s a clear indication that they need division.
And this is also the ideal time to renovate an old perennial bed. It’s a sad fact of life that just after your perennial bed looks perfect, it starts to decline. Shrubs grow up, invasive plants get too rambunctious, evergreens get larger than you planned… I speak from experience. I have a couple of beds that urgently need rehabilitation.
Start a new garden bed
This is also a really good time to have soil delivered for new beds or to refresh old ones. If you’re making a new bed, take the easy way out: soak newspapers in water and lay the wet papers out on the grass where you want the garden. You can outline the shape with a garden hose and mark it with some spray paint or even flour. Then just dump the soil on top. The soil should be piled about a foot deep because it will settle by about one third over the winter – another reason why it’s a good time to do this now.
In spring, the soil will be perfect for planting; the newspaper breaks down and conditions the soil while killing the grass and any weeds underneath. Some people even add leaves over the newspaper for double conditioning.
Having once tried this method, I will never dig another garden bed. It works!
Look after the lawn
You can work on your lawn, too. Add some peat moss to the lawn or just chop up fallen leaves and let a thin layer remain on the lawn a while before you add a nice sprinkling of grass seed. Do the sowing a little later in the season, just before freeze up – you don’t want birds picking off all your seeds. Keep a close eye on the soil. We have recently had some good rains, but if it dries up too much before frost, don’t forget to water your perennials beds, your shrubs and especially any young trees.
Protect evergreens and young trees
Speaking of young trees, if you have planted evergreens this fall, make them a sunscreen of burlap, but do not let the burlap touch the needles. I have seen some folks wrap the trees up like a baby – a big no-no, which probably did more harm than good by wicking away moisture from the needles. All you want to do is to shield them from drying winds and direct sunlight, both of which can suck moisture from the needles and cause browning and sometimes death to the tree.
It’s a lovely time of year, but sad, too, as we put away the hope of spring and the excitement of summer. Once the snow flies, we will have to garden in our minds. But then, perhaps that’s the best part after all.