How often do I hear people say “I just love the fall season.” There is so much to love about October in the garden. From pumpkins and gourds to fall foliage color and crisp refreshing air we fall in love with time outdoors. Aside from being a beautiful time of the year, it is also the perfect time of the year to rejuvenate or establish your landscape. Let me count the ways oh October how I love you. In the words of Victorian poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…..10 to be exact why October is a kick in the plants out in the garden.
When Chlorophyll production breaks down in the leaves the other pigments get their chance to shine!
1) Plants put in the ground in October focus on establishment; the soil is warm for roots while the air temperature cools reducing stress.
2) Bulbs! Plant Tulips, Daffodils, Alliums, Hyacinths, Crocus and more now for spring color.
3) Mum’s the word. Chrysanthemums provide vibrant color and come back year after year. Give Asters a try too; today’s new varieties are reliable bloomers!
4) Weed control is effective in fall. Weeds just like the trees are moving food reserves into their root systems for winter so herbicide sprays are more effective when applied in fall. Weed control will also knock out winter annual weeds now so they don’t appear in spring.
5) Fall annuals like Pansies or Ornamental Kale are frost tolerant and provide color well into November.
6) Lawns like plants focus on root establishment in fall because of the warm soil and cool air temperatures. Feed your lawn and overseed and it will reward you next spring with thick lush healthy growth. Consider core aeration in fall especially if your soil is clay-like in nature.
7) Shrubs and Trees establish well in fall, again the roots will establish in the soil without energy put into top growth. Fall planted landscape plants establish quicker the following year than spring planted material.
8) Exercise your green thumb as in dollar savings! Deals are generally available in fall to save you money.
9) Money grows on trees. Leaves have natural nutrients and organic structure to improve the tilth of your soil….and they’re free!
10) Maintain your “composture”. Start a compost pile for your garden next year, no time like the present and October is a great time to start!
It’s that time of year again….time when people stop to see me completely freaked out by a “dancing snowflakes on their tree!” Well Happy Holidays and relax. The “snowflakes” are an insect called Beech Blight Aphid or affectionately known as the Boogie Woogie Aphid.
Beech blight aphids dancing on a twig
You can blast them with jets of water late in the season or spray with an insect control however on a large Beech tree for many this is not practical. They will not kill the tree but can weaken the tree over time….generally we just see some branch loss here and there. Their calling card is sooty mold fungi from their excretions called honeydew that turns tar black in color.
Their dance will cause some branch distortion and possibly some branch loss but you are not going to lose your tree. As with any tree good maintenance and care (including feeding and pruning) will keep the tree healthy and able to withstand nuisances like the Boogie Woogie Aphid.
Trees are a part of our lives, we often pass them by without notice, a familiar forgotten part of our daily surroundings. I was reflecting on how trees provide color, shade, oxygen, a home for wildlife, beauty, food, fuel and mark the seasons of our lives. Trees also teach us valuable lessons of diversity and perseverance and value.
Every year it seems we experience a storm event where trees in our neighborhoods remind us of their presence succumbing to a wind or ice event and causing damage. It is a natural physical reminder of “Entropy” in our lives. The definition of Entropy…..a lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder. We all deal with entropy in our lives, but prefer to ignore decline or deterioration. We work to move forward because you are either moving forward or backwards, not much stays the same and certainly not for long. When it comes to entropy we grow when we:
1) Recognize it as reality.
2) Develop the skill to identify it and resist apathy and complacency.
3) Understand entropy applies not only to the physical but mental too…our attitudes and relationships.
4) Most importantly, developing a clear understanding of what you can manage. Entropy dictates the need to manage what and how much we can manage in our realm.
Recently a major wind event felled a number of trees in our neighborhoods. When they crashed it was a good reminder of necessary maintenance, planning and development to battle the ever present effects of entropy.
This tree completely uprooted in the storm. Notice the taper and root collar were strong but the lateral roots were unable to support the tree
For example, to have strong trunks, tree trunks should be tapered from top to bottom. Trees develop tapered trunks from two major events in their lives: trunks swaying back and forth in the wind and the presence of branches with leaves all along the trunk. These lessons are learned early in the life of a tree and its development. Without it they won’t be able to support the canopy of the tree when the storms of life arrive. It is just like humans, the most intelligent have the ability to hold two opposing views in their mind and still be able to function.
The wind event reminded us of the importance of a tree’s root collar. It is the area where the roots join the main stem or trunk. At the base of the tree there is a “flare” leading to the major roots. The root collar is part of the tree’s trunk. Unlike roots, the trunk is not specialized to resist constant soil moisture. If the tree is planted originally too deep or has soil or mulch mounded against the root collar and bark that is not accustomed to being wet, we will eventually see decline and ultimately failure of the tree at some point. Root collar from the start makes a difference.
Example of the effects of Windthrow and failure of lateral roots
Root collar of the tree and base of the overall taper of the tree
Strong root collars still experienced a condition called wind throw because support from the lateral roots was diminished due to surrounding driveways, walks, streets or other factors diminishing a stable lateral root system. We saw the entire tree roots and all lift out of the ground and topple over.
Finally most people do not think of pruning. “Pruning” can be a good thing in our personal lives. A setback can help us re-evaluate and reset to move forward. A tree, even a large established tree benefits from pruning. Some of the trees that went over in the storm had been neglected for years. Pruning of trees is a safety issue, a tree health issue and finally is done for aesthetics. Winter is a great time for pruning of deciduous trees and strengthens and improves them for future growth.
Lessons can be learned from the storms of life. May the forest be with you.
Heard a knocking on the door this morning. Discovered the racket was from the backyard. A male Downy Woodpecker drumming on the front of a nesting box.
Posted in Birds
I love flowers and plants, but a close second is photographing Lake Michigan on my frequent walks. Hope you enjoy a few of my recent pictures………….
Conflicted Elements 2
Clouds and curling waves
Calm after chaos….storm has passed.