As October approaches I welcome this seasonal change of chilly mornings that are warmed by sunshine with blue skies into the afternoon as a hint of fall lingers in the air. The cooler temperatures provoke deciduous trees and shrubs to take a break from their food making process allowing the chlorophyll to cease production, which in turn allows us to enjoy the gorgeous display of fall color in the surrounding mountains and in our very own landscapes.
The Harvest Supermoon is on the horizon at the end of this month. This full moon will coincide with the day when it’s nearest to the earth, which will make this Supermoon the largest and most brilliant showcase of the year. This special day is the perfect opportunity to gather with family and friends to share the bountiful harvest from the garden. The evenings are just cool enough to cozy up to a fire and enjoy the chilly night.
Early October is the perfect time to change out annual containers to mums, pansies, chard and ornamental kale that brings seasonal color with a cheery welcome to the entry of our homes or patio spaces. Bulbs maybe incorporated to add an extra spark of color when spring comes forth. It’s best to plant fall bulbs in October before the ground freezes hard. Healthy soil is a key component for providing vigorous bulbs in spring. Incorporating bulb fertilizer at the base of the hole provides additional nutrients for them to flourish.
As a gardener I find great pleasure in planting fall bulbs in the garden. There is something that makes them even more special when you have to wait for them to emerge. When selecting bulbs for border beds, it’s a good idea to choose ones that tend to be deer and rodent resistant. One of my favorites is the checkered lily, (Fritillaria meleagris) this is an heirloom species dating back to 1575. The bell shaped pendulous checkered maroon or ivory flower naturalizes well. Flowering onions (Allium varieties) extend the season with the globe like flowers that bloom May through August depending on the variety.
There are many lovely naturalizing daffodils (Narcissi species) such as the butterfly mixture, or the double mixtures that will provide color every spring in the garden. If you find your daffodils are not producing well you may add a low nitrogen and potassium fertilizer to get them to push blooms.
Fall is a wonderful time of the year to select trees and shrubs to see their fall display of color at its best and get them planted to allow time for establishment before the intense southern Oregon heat returns.
Some trees that share amazing fall color in the garden are Japanese maples (Acer palmatum cultivars). There are so many to choose from that range in an assortment of brilliant colors. Dogwoods return with their second attribute in addition to their spring flowers when there leaves grace us with their radiant orange hues.
If you are looking for a shade tree there are some beautiful Ashes (Fraxinus varieties) that do well here. The golden desert ash (Fraxinus excelsior ‘Golden Desert’) is a compact shade tree and has beautiful bright yellow color in fall. As the leaves drop the striking yellow bark is more pronounced. The autumn purple ash (Fraxinus americana ‘Autumn Purple’) has a larger canopy and does well within irrigated lawn spaces. The red sunset maples (Acer rubrum cultivars) also make a lovely shade tree. They have amazing yellow, orange to red colors and are easy to care for.
As the seasons change, fall is a great time of the year to get outside and bask in the beauty that our back yards have to offer and be thankful for our surroundings.