Great time to get back in the garden

Published 9:09 am Monday, October 12, 2015

As temperatures become cooler and more tolerable, it’s a great time to get back into the garden. If you haven’t planted a fall garden yet, you still have time. Transplants of broccoli, cauliflower, swiss chard, and Brussels sprouts are now available. For something quick and simple, throw some carrot seeds in a pot of finely sifted soil for perfectly straight carrots in a few months. Now is also the best time to plant trees and shrubs. If you have been planning to rework an area in your yard, get out those plans and get after it!

Planting a perennial border can be a fun project for fall. Perennials are those plants that come back year after year as compared to annuals that only last for one season and have to be replaced. Plot out your design on paper, making sure not to put anything in straight rows. Nothing grows naturally in a straight line. The border needs to look as if the plants just popped up where they are. Think sweeping curves. If you need a visual aid, lay out a garden hose or rope to get the look you want. Plant in drifts or clumps all the while keeping in mind how tall the plant will be at maturity. Plant taller varieties at the back of the border, mid-size plants in the middle, and of course, smaller plants in the front. Consider which color combinations to use. Do you like cool colors or warm colors? Warm colors can create an intimate space while cool colors bring a sense of harmony and tranquility. As a rule of thumb, in a small space, use more cool colors and less warm because cool colors give the area more of an open feel. When choosing plants, remember to include those that are grown only for foliage ie: ferns, ginger, hostas, etc. Pair strong textured foliage with warm colors and delicate textures with cool colors. You can create a monochromatic theme such as only white, which can be very dramatic against green foliage, or pair warm with cool colors for a balanced unified landscape. Also take into consideration the bloom times of your plants. The goal is to have something in bloom year ‘round . You will be rewarded with an ever- changing display of color throughout the seasons.

Need help deciding what to do? There are lots of excellent gardening magazines and books available. One of my favorite books is Doug Welch’s Texas Garden Almanac which gives month by month advice on what to do in each area of Texas. Another good reference book to have on hand is The Lone Star Gardener’s Book of Lists. There is also a wealth of information online including pictures of breathtaking gardens. It only takes some planning and you can create your own personal paradise. Whatever you decide, always give yourself permission to make changes! Gardening is not an exact science. It is an experiment and an adventure!

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For more information, contact Micah Shanks, Jefferson County Master Gardener at or Texas A & M AgriLife Extension , 409-835-8461.