I’m pleased to have guest writer, Lois Crouse, share some tips about gardening in the fall months, especially considering our unique weather here in Colorado Springs. Whether you have an avid green thumb or are just getting your house ready for market, I hope you find these ideas helpful.
You don’t have to put away your gardening gear once fall sets in. It’s an ideal time to plant. For one thing, the cooler air is easier on the plants and on those of us “working the soil.” Yet the soil is warm enough for roots to develop right up until the ground freezes.
Here in Colorado Springs, temperatures are comfortable in the fall, the days are sunny and there is less chance for pests and diseases to attack the plants. With a yearly average high temperature of 72-degrees, days of 60-degree weather are not uncommon. Even the winters here are mild with an average high temperature of 45-degrees. Another advantage of planting in the fall is that garden centers have great sales!
Planting bulbs in the fall will bring a lavish display of color in the spring. Tulips, daffodils, crocus, hyacinth, and giant allium should be on your fall planting list. As well as, the more exotic fritillaria, snowdrops, and glory in the snow. When night temperatures are consistently around 40 to 50 degrees, pick out the most plump and firm bulbs and plant them in holes three to four inches deeper than the bulb is tall—pointed end up.
For a more natural look, plant bulbs randomly in big, irregular groupings rather than placing them in straight rows evenly spaced. Keep the hungry critters away with a layer of mulch, piece of mesh, or chicken wire worked into the soil. Remove the protective layer when the bulbs start to sprout out of the ground.
2. Casablanca Oriental Lily
Casablanca lilies are majestic. The plant grows to 4 feet tall with 8-to-10 inch blooms that are a true white and daintily flocked. Unlike the bulbs above that bloom in spring, these lilies grow from tubers and bloom in mid to late summer—a longer but immensely rewarding wait. Plant the tubers six to eight inches deep (points up, flat end down) in soil that has proper drainage. They thrive in sun or partial shade. If you have a place where the flowers can be in the full sun and the bottom of the stem in the shade (near shrubs or a building, for example), even better.
3. Garden Mums
Garden mums turn up the fall color quotient like no other plant. Hundreds of cultivars in every shape and shade make mums the super star of fall gardens. They range from dwarf to giant in colors from the understated white and yellow to the boldly dramatic burgundy and purple. One of their most valued trait—the blooms last for weeks rather than days. Mums are not fussy about soil type, but are the happiest in organic soil. Likewise, they’ll grow in partial shade but not as gloriously as they will in the full sun. Place them where they are protected from heavy winds and tuck them in for a freezing winter with a generous layer of mulch.
4. Flowering Kale
Flowering kale is a wonderful companion for garden mums in fall and early winter. The fringed, ruffled or feathered leaves in shades of purples and reds complement the colorful mums as well as the fall foliage. Kale fares well in rich, moist soil. Once established, it can withstand temperatures below freezing.
Leaves that have been “frosted” are sweeter in flavor, since, as with other fall greens, the frost helps the kale break down starches into sugars. Harvest the young, shorter leaves (no more than 10 inches) from the bottom of the plant; the plant will keep producing new upper leaves.
5. Manna from Heaven
Not actually manna, but in the fall, free fertilizer falls onto your lawn—all those beautiful, musky leaves that will enrich the soil for your fall gardening. Not only will you save time and money, but you’ll help protect the environment from damage perpetrated by chemical fertilizers. Shredded leaves work best, but that doesn’t preclude whole and chopped leaves.
About the Writer
Lois Crouse came to appreciate nature’s beauty through her plein air painting and finds passion in designing gardens and outdoor living spaces. In her spare time, she enjoys practicing Tai Chi on a nearby beach and taking meditative walks through forests.
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