Sunday, September 8, 2013

Time for Fall Gardening!

Fall is such a fabulous time for gardening in the Pacific Northwest, yet many of us don't take full advantage of this great opportunity to add plants, mulch, and other garden features.  The start of our "rainy season" means that the soil softens up nicely for digging, and that Mother Nature will provide the majority of water needed for your new plants.  The cooler temperatures mean less overheating for us diggers too!  More importantly, the cooler temperatures mean less transplant shock and quicker development of new roots for all new plantings.  Adding mulch during fall helps keep the soil warmer longer, which also adds to new root development, and prevents compaction by the heavy winter rains.  If you are thinking of adding a rain garden or other storm-water-absorbing feature, having moist soils makes for better accuracy of your percolation tests as well as easier digging and planting.

Fall Gardening Tips: 
  1. If you want to add trees and shrubs with fall color to your garden, pick them out at the nursery while their leaves are turning.  The fall color of some plants, such as Vine Maple, can vary greatly and once in a while there is even a "dud" plant without much pizzaz.
  2. Fall is also a great time to add late-blooming perennials and grasses to your garden.  Sedum 'Autumn Joy', Fountain Grasses (Pennisetum), and Japanese Anemone are all low-water use, and Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia) and Coneflower (Echinacea) provide much-needed food for our native butterflies. Some have terrific fall color too, such as Plumbago (Ceratostigma)!
  3. If the soil isn't yet softened by rain where you want to dig, give it a gentle but thorough sprinkle and let the water soak in for 10-20 minutes before digging.  You'll be surprised how much easier it will be. Once the soil is moist, take care not to compact it too much during planting, so that there are plenty of air pockets left to hold rainwater close to the roots and insulate them from winter cold.
Take a class to learn more!
I am pleased that many local municipalities and other entities have become more aware of the advantages of fall gardening, and have asked me to teach on a variety of gardening topics this fall!  I hope you are starting to dream about your own fall gardening projects, and that I will see you at one of the following classes:

Seattle Classes:

Wildlife-friendly Garden Design Sponsored by the UW Botanic Gardens
Wednesday September 18th; 6:30-8:00pm
Center for Urban Horticulture- Douglas Classroom
3501 NE 41st St, Seattle WA 98195
$20 fee if registered by Sept 11th, $25 after
If you’ve been dreaming of a garden that attracts and nurtures songbirds, beneficial insects, and other wildlife, this class will help you make that dream a reality. You will learn a step-by-step method of choosing plants and other features that fit your site and fulfill the daily needs of wildlife, how to turn problem areas into habitat assets, create and manage pest-free feeding stations, and maintenance practices that help keep wildlife in your garden year-round. Whether your goal is to design a new garden or to incorporate new habitat features into an existing garden, you will enjoy this practical approach to sustainable success. Wildlife habitat gardens have kind of a beauty that plants alone cannot provide!Attendees should bring some photos of their existing yard for customized advice.

Beautiful Solutions for Gardening on Slopes Sponsored by the Savvy Gardener Program
Saturday, September 21st; 10am-11:30am 
Magnuson Community Center - Windermere Room
7110 62nd Ave NE, Seattle WA 98115
Register through Parks online Use barcode 105399 to find this class in the catalog. OR call MCC to register: (206) 684-7026
Learn how you can replace hard-to-mow slopes with beautiful, easy care plantings. We’ll focus on critical soil building steps, plant selection, planting techniques and proper watering. See for yourself how a heavily compacted slope in Magnuson Park has been completely transformed, and how the plants in a second garden rebounded as a result of building healthy soil. This class is not concerned with very steep slopes that require structural engineering.

Saturday, September 28th; 10am-11:30am   
$15 fee includes 1 adult and 1 child, additional adult or sibling are half price!
Magnuson Brig Building/Magnuson Children's Garden
6344 NE 74th St, Seattle WA 98115
Register through Parks online Use barcode #105400 to find this class in the catalog. OR call MCC to register: (206) 684-7026
Join us with your child or grandchild for a fun-filled morning in the Magnuson Children’s Garden! Learn about child-friendly features that are easy-to-add to your own backyard, food crops that are easy-to-grow, and fun projects for the whole family.  Every family receives a free children’s gardening and nature guide too!
Fabulous Fall Plants, with Tips on Planting Success Sponsored by City Peoples Garden Store
Saturday October 12th from 1:00-2:00pm

2939 E. Madison St, Seattle WA 98112
Fall is the best time to plant trees, shrubs, and perennials that will establish a strong root system during the rainy season! This workshop will focus on choosing plants that have great fall color and year-round interest, and will include a demonstration on proper planting techniques to ensure their long-term health.
Child-friendly Garden Design Sponsored by the UW Botanic Gardens  
Wednesday October 16th; 6:30-8:00pm 
Center for Urban Horticulture- Douglas Classroom
3501 NE 41st St, Seattle WA 98195
$20 fee if registered by Oct 9th, $25 after
In his book, Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv writes that “stress reduction, greater physical health, a deeper sense of spirit, more creativity, a sense of play…are the rewards that await a family when it invites more nature into their childrens’ lives.”  If you are intrigued by the idea of making inviting and nurturing places for children within your own garden, this class will inspire and inform you! You‘ll learn ways to create unique places for nature exploration and play that fire your child’s imagination and “grow up” along with them, and fun ways to incorporate easy food gardening as part of your regular family activities. All attendees receive “top ten” lists of child-friendly plants to include, a list of plants to avoid, and other helpful resources. Attendees should bring some photos of their existing yard for customized advice.

Eastside and North County Classes:
Tuesday September 17th; 6:30-8:00pm
City Hall Community Center
1812 Main St, Lake Stevens, WA 98258


Sustainable Design and Natural Pest, Weed and Disease Control
A FREE class sponsored by the Snohomish County Department of Public Works
Wednesday Sept 25th; 7:00-9:00pm
Willis Tucker Park- Gary Weikel Room
6705 Puget Park Drive, Snohomish 98296

and again on
Thursday Sept 26th; 7:00-9:00pm
Warm Beach Fire Station #97- Meeting Room
19727 Marine Drive, Stanwood 98292


Edibles, Weeds and Pest Control A FREE class sponsored by the City of Bellevue’s "Take Root" Natural Yard Care Program 
Tuesday October 1st; 7:00-9:00pm
Bellevue City Hall
450 110th Avenue NE, Room 1E-108, Bellevue WA 98009
(must be Bellevue resident to attend)
Tuesday Oct 9th from 5:30-7:30pm
Brightwater Center
22509 State Route 9 SE, Woodinville WA 98072