Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Fall Garden- an end and a beginning!

Fall is a magical time of year, as the natural world changes so much before our eyes, and we can't help but be affected. I always seem to get a little wistful, and remember days long past, but I am also uplifted by the blaze of glory that marks the end of the growing season. Plus I love the chance to plant in the garden again, knowing that Mother Nature will supply all the cool water needed for plants to grow healthy new roots out into the soil. How does fall affect you?

At this time of year, garden articles always seem to contain a long "to-do" list of ways to tidy up for winter that can feel overwhelming. I am a firm believer in "less is more" when it comes to fall cleanup, so I am enclosing a list to inspire you in that direction!

From the Washington Dept of Fish & Wildlife- September 2010 "Crossing Paths" newsletter

Fall "to do" list- from your backyard wildlife family:

  • Leave some "dead heads" on your flowering plants to provide seeds for some of us birds and other animals
  • If you rake leaves off your lawn, just pile them under some shrubs, bushes or other nooks and crannies to provide homes for those insects that we birds love to eat; leaves make great mulch to help your plants, anyway!
  • Keep that dead or dying tree right where it is (unless, of course, it's truly a hazard to you), so we can feast on the insects in the rotting wood or make winter roosts or dens in its cavities.
  • Give yourself and your mower a rest for at least a portion of your lawn so we've got a patch of taller grass to hide and forage in.
  • Save just a little of that dead bramble thicket for us - it makes great winter cover and we don't need much! Fall is a good time to plant shrubs, so replace invasive, exotic Himalayan and cutleaf blackberries with native plants of higher wildlife value like blackcap (native black raspberry) or red raspberry; native currants or gooseberries.
  • Pile up any brush or rocks that you clear around your place, to give us another option for nests and dens.
  • Take it easy on yourself and let go of the "perfect" garden image; we wild animals like less tidy, "fuzzy" places because there's usually more food and shelter there.
  • Get yourself a comfortable chair, sit back, and congratulate yourself on having made a home for wildlife and a haven of relaxation for yourself!
  • For more info on creating a wildlife-friendly garden, visit http://wdfw.wa.gov

If you do have big plans for your garden this fall, here are some resources that may help:
Sheet-mulching is a great way to create new garden beds from lawn, and if you have sloped areas, I usually suggest buying a roll of jute netting to peg into the ground on top of the newspaper layers to keep the mulch from sliding off. Burlap coffee bags work just as well as jute, and here is a source for free bags!
Who: Espresso Vivace
What: Burlap bags available on first-come, first-served basis.
When: M-F; 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Where: 1512 11th Ave.

Oct. 9th City Fruit Class: Planting and Caring for Young Fruit Trees Fall is also the best time to plant fruit trees. By using good planting, watering, and pruning techniques, and learning to recognize problems, you can give young trees the best chance to become healthy and productive. The class covers site selection, fruit tree selection, where to buy fruit trees, how to plant them and how to care for young trees.
Where: Bradner Gardens Park Classroom, 1750 S Bradner Pl, Seattle, WA 98144.
When: October 9; 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
More Information: To register, visit https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/114585 or send a check to City Fruit, PO Box 28577, Seattle 98118.
Cost: $15 members, $20 non-members.

Oct. 16th WNPS Native Plant Sale
Fall is the best time to plant trees, shrubs, and perennials, in order to take advantage of our Northwest rainy season for over winter root growth. Over 250 species of plants, bulbs and seeds native to Washington State and mostly the Puget Sound area. WNPS (Washington Native Plant Society) experts will be on hand to share their knowledge, a great selection of books will be for sale, and there will be complimentary coffee & tea. Please bring boxes or trays to carry home your native plant treasures.
Where: Magnuson Park, Bldg 30, 6310 NE 74th St, Seattle WA 98115
When: Saturday October 16; 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
For More Information: Visit www.wnps.org or email Lucy Weinberg at lucyw@live.com.

Oct. 31st Seattle Tree Fruit Society Fall Fruit Show Taste all kinds of fruit varieties that are well-suited for the Pacific Northwest, bring your apples to be identified, attend a variety of talks. Also, kids creative activities, apple maggot barrier sales, and more!
Where: Center for Urban Horticulture, 3501 NE 41st St, Seattle, WA 98195.
When: October 31; 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
More Information: Visit http://www.seattletreefruitsociety.com or email seattletreefruitsociety@hotmail.com.
Cost: $2 individual, $5 family, free to STFS members and family.

Hope you enjoy fall, whether you spend it in the hammock or with your knees in the soil!

Member of the Washington Chapter of Association of Professional Landscape Designers and the Environmental Education Association of Washington