Let Autumn Linger

Owning a shop that celebrates each season always has me planning months ahead.   With Thanksgiving barely over, we start the annual transformation of our botanical boutique into a Winter Wonderland.   It gives me a twinge of regret about rushing Autumn; a season that should be savoured.   Though “kitten-frost” is imminent, there are many, many weeks before deep frost begins.    Kitten frost usually happens shortly after Thanksgiving and is just enough to make summer annuals do their final droop.  This initial frost hastens the burnishing of the deciduous trees that make our province one of the most beautiful places in the world particularly at this time of the year.   

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We may need to bundle up with an extra layer or two, but we still have weeks to enjoy time in the garden.   This year the seasonal shift is late.   Our gardening crews will still be planting for a few weeks more; planting perennials, shrubs and trees to improve fall and winter succession of bloom.   We plant bulbs for early spring succession until the last of the leaves drop.  It is usually mid-November before the soil no longer allows easy digging.      We refuse to put gardens to bed until late October and early November.  With my own garden ablaze with the colour of a Coral Bark Japanese Maple, dwarf pin oaks shifting to russet, exuberant QuickFire Hydrangeas, still vibrant Rozanne Coral Bells and amazing grasses swaying in the breeze; this is not a season to be rushed.  

It is also time to nudge yourself outdoors even though it is cooler.   Enjoy walks or bike rides in the neighbourhood. Or a road trip to witness children cavorting in pumpkin patches and an astounding transformation; from October’s copper, scarlet and gold to the starker, austere beauty that November brings.   Back indoors at the end of each day, it is time for all things Hygge: cozy fall sweaters, plaid shirts, warm slippers, homemade soups and tons of candles aglow.    

Slowing down to savour the Harvest season has inspired many workshops for the next few weeks at Kate’s Garden.    Check out our Thanksgiving to New Year’s Workshops.

I personally plan to use these next few weeks to actually enjoy the process of getting Holiday ready.

  In addition to our dozens and dozens of autumn and holiday workshops, our Kate’s Garden team will decorate the exterior and provide the fresh indoor blooms for two homes on the Stouffville Home for Christmas House Tour. 

On November 11th, Kate’s Garden will have two booths at the Celebration of Hope, the 29th Annual Luncheon at the Hilton Suites.  It is a major Breast Cancer fundraiser and (link) a not-to-be missed event.  If you do not have tickets yet, contact Catherine Ortiz at cortiz@msh.on.ca.    In addition to our Christmas booth, we will sell Sprucewood Cookies (link) in the new food area.  Sprucewood is famous for their scrumptious savoury and sweet shortbreads; baked in Cobourg.  

We will also provide a showcase booth at the Seasons Christmas Show which takes place at the International Centre from November 16th to November 18th.   It is a HUGE Christmas show where my staff and I offer daily Holiday Flower Arranging and Christmas Decorating Demos on the main stage.  It is an amazing place to stock up on artisanal Christmas gifts and fabulous home-made Christmas treats.  

Planting Bulbs in the Fall for Early Spring Succession of Bloom

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Winter is long in Zone 5!   To get a jump on spring, plant bulbs in the fall for the earliest blooms possible in your spring garden.   Some start as early as late March…peeping up through the snow as it departs.    

Hardy versus Tender Bulbs

Hardy bulbs are cold-loving, easy -to-grow flowers that you plant in the fall for early succession of bloom.  They need the cold winter period to bloom; hyacinths, tulips, daffodils, snowdrops, crocuses etc.

Tender bulbs like paperwhites and amaryllis will not survive the winter and must be grown indoors in Zone 5.

Choosing Bulbs

Choose your bulbs by succession of bloom.   They only last a few weeks so be sure to pick early bloomers that flower in late March to early April (snowdrops, crocuses, early daffodils, etc.).   Mid season bloomers flower between late April and early May (muscari and hyacinth).   Late bloomers are usually the tallest (tallest Tulips and Daffodils) and bloom just as the earliest perennials are flowering.   If you want full succession of bloom for bulbs from the end of March to the end of May, remember early, mid and late!

As you select your bulbs, remember bigger is better.   Give them a squeeze as they should be firm; like choosing a good onion.   Ensure there is no mold, foul smell or indication of rot. Store them in a cool, dry place until you are ready to plant.

Try to stick to a simple, three-colour palette.   I love white, blue and yellow in the early spring, purples and pinks for mid spring and then hots (reds, yellows and oranges) for late spring.

Sheridan and Valley View Nurseries have lovely selections of bulbs now that October is approaching.

Where to Plant your Bulbs

Worrying about sun conditions for bulbs is irrelevant until leaf out.   Most deciduous trees to not leaf out until after mid-May in Zone 5.    However, as a rule of thumb bulbs love sunlight.   They do not do well under evergreen trees, conifers or early-leafing, densely foliated deciduous trees.

Be sure to choose sites in your garden that enhance your front garden curb appeal and can be easily viewed from your kitchen window.  

Planting Bulbs

·       In Zone 5, bulbs are best planted late September to late October but can be planted as late as mid November if the ground remains unfrozen.

·       All you need is a shovel. Dig a circular hole 6-8” deep that is wide enough to plant seven to ten bulbs.  Leave 6-8” between bulbs.

·       Before dropping bulbs in place make certain that the hole is well watered.   Adding a few strands of human hair helps to keep squirrels away.   Plant with point-side up, 3 times deeper than the height of bulb.   

·       Water and cover your tracks with mulch.   Disguise the fact that you planted bulbs from pesky squirrels by covering the areas with mulch.

·       Keep them well watered until mid November and well-watered in the spring.  However, they do not like to stay wet. 

Need help with your bulb design, selection and planting?  Check out our Garden to Bed and Fine Gardening Services.