Plenty of gardening work to do in fall

Rob Zimmer, Leader Columnist

Photo by Rob Zimmer Decorative fall displays and gardens are a great way to extend your bloom season into November. Plants such as mums, kale and pansies are perfect for late season color and beauty.

Photo by Rob Zimmer One of the most popular and rewarding fall gardening activities is planting spring blooming bulbs, available now at a garden center near you.

With mild temperatures again this week, the gardening season continues to provide gardeners with plenty of opportunities to get outside and enjoy their hobby.

The next few weeks, in fact, are the perfect time to get out and enjoy working in the garden. There are many great fall garden activities to keep you busy into November.

The long growing season is rewarding many gardeners here in our area with an extended display of colorful blooms and fresh vegetables and root crops.

Fall bulb time

Fall is traditionally the time of year when gardeners plant spring blooming bulbs, such as tulips, daffodils, allium and others. Design and plant bulb beds, borders and displays this fall for a spectacular spring show.

Dividing and transplanting

The cooler temperatures of fall also make it an ideal time to divide and transplant existing perennials in the garden. Perennials are those plants that go dormant each winter and re-emerge fresh and new in spring, providing years of increasing growth and bloom.

Many perennials benefit from division every three to five years to keep them vigorous and manageable in size. Dividing perennials simply means separating the plant into several smaller plants.

This division is best done in the cooler temperatures of fall when there is still plenty of time for new transplants to establish themselves before winter arrives. Perennials such hostas, day lilies, bearded iris and others are easy to divide, or split, in fall, because the old growth can be cut back, allowing you to handle the root ball more easily.

Garden cleanup

Cutting back or removing the seed and flower stalks of perennials and annuals in the garden is a personal choice. Increasing numbers of gardeners are choosing to allow perennials to remain standing throughout the winter season.

This is because the seeds and plumes of most perennials, even some annuals, provide a rich source of food for winter birds. The beauty and the texture of many dried seed heads add plumes also provides wonderful winter elegance and texture in the garden.

Keep in mind, if you saw signs of disease, such as powdery mildew and other fungal issues, it is best to remove plant growth and material from the garden to help minimize the problem in the future.

It is also important to remove all plant material from bearded iris beds, since iris borer eggs and larva shelter in moist plant material at the surface.

Stock up and save

Many garden centers offer clearance sales this time of year, making it possible to stock up on trees, shrubs and perennials for the yard and garden.

Fall is the best time of year to plant most of these, making it an ideal time to check out your local garden center to see what they have to offer.

Decorative planting

Keep the gardening season exciting and fun by including some decorative seasonal plantings in your fall gardening calendar. Plants such as mums, kale, violas and pansies will continue to provide color and beauty well into November.

Top dressing garden beds

One of the most beneficial things you can do for your garden beds during fall is to apply a simple top dressing of compost over the existing soil that will provide nutrients and organic material.

Simply spread a good 4 to 6 inches of backyard or bagged compost over your beds and let the natural freezing and thawing cycles of the winter season work in these nutrients naturally over the next several months. By spring, your gardens will be ready to plant, full of rich, organic material for beautiful plants.

Find Rob Zimmer online at www.robzimmeroutdoors.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RobZimmerOutdoors. Listen to Outdoors with Rob Zimmer from 4-5 p.m. Fridays and 7-8 a.m. Saturdays.