October how I love thee…let me count the ways

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.

Fall is for lawn and landscape maintenance and improvements!

1) Plants put in the ground in October focus on establishment; the soil is warm for roots while the air temperature cools reducing stress. Don’t pack away the garden hose. Dependent on weather conditions a supplemental deep watering for landscape plants and trees may be needed to avoid having plants enter the winter season under 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.

Enjoy some pansies for color during the fall months!

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!

Money does grow on trees! Use falling foliage to improve your garden!

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!

The Phantasmagoric Peony

Photographed these phantasmagorical peonies today thinking wow….. they “have a fantastic appearance, as something in a dream created by the imagination.” 

A phantasmagoric peony on a June afternoon
“Bee-leaf” it…..I’m not the only one to find them phantasmagoric!
Simply “Plantasmagoric” I say…..

May Day

It is ironic that May Day is an emergency word used internationally as a distress signal in radio communications that we have seen used in the movies. It is ironic, because the arrival of the first day of May is a celebration of flowers and spring. May Day was celebrated on May 1 by some early European settlers to North America with May baskets. These are baskets that were filled with flowers or treats and left at someone’s doorstep. The giver rings the bell and runs away. The person receiving the basket tries to catch the fleeing giver; if caught, a kiss is exchanged. Good idea to wear your track shoes that day.
Today the arrival of May usually means the last frost days are passing and tender flowering plants can be enjoyed in our gardens and landscapes.

My Mom told me there would be “daisies” like this

Mother’s day is a weekend to give and receive flowers to celebrate both Mom and the promise of a new gardening season. Later in May as we celebrate the Memorial Day holiday, plants and flowers play a big role in remembrance as well as our home gardening enjoyment.

Tropical plants like Hibiscus make a great Mother’s Day gift idea.

I read recently that “a weed is a flower with an advertising budget”. Today plant breeders have developed flowering plants for our landscapes that bloom longer, brighter and more reliably than the blooms enjoyed years ago. Dahlias, Pansies, Gerbera Daisies, Calibrachoa, Coleus and Petunias are great examples of how we have come a long way baby. Container gardening popularity has driven the development of reliable, continuous blooming and colorful plants that you can enjoy all summer long in your little corner of the world.
An easy container to design is a mono-culture container. Choose a single variety for your container along with an attractive container. Next mono-color combinations use two different shades of a color, but because you are using the same color you don’t have to worry about the colors clashing…they blend in shades.

The versatile colorful Gerbera Daisy

Analogous colors are next to each other on the color wheel and mix together easily. These can be effective and very colorful combinations of pink and red, pink and orange (a favorite of mine) yellow and orange, orange and red, violet and red, blue and green, and blue-violet. My favorite approach is using complimentary colors. On a color wheel, complimentary colors are directly opposite of each other…like red and green, orange and blue, or yellow and violet. Finally you might want to try your hand at a three way combination color scheme.

Color Wheel

I call it a triple play, some people call it a triad. This combination uses 3 colors that are spaced equally on the color wheel – the points of a triangle. Examples would be a red-yellow-blue or violet-orange-green combination. Try a red-yellow-blue or pink-yellow-blue triangle combination.
Here are two quick pointers for your May Day combinations.

Colorful Crotons and other foliage plants add season long interest to plantings.

Remember that pink is a great color to include because it plays well with almost any color including orange and red. Also remember for best success plant your container working from the inside to the outside of the pot thinking “Focal, Filler, Edger, Trailer”.

Air out your “Green”-ance

Once the holidays are over I’m sure if I had to do it all over again I would over do it. So I’m grateful for a month like January where I can get grounded and renewed for the seasons ahead. Before you know it spring will be here. Winter is a good time to reflect and dream with new ideas for the warmer seasons to come, to think of changes in your personal landscape and environment. Being surrounded by healthy plants both indoors and out is known to improve our daily lives. To thumb through articles and look at pictures of landscapes, flowers and plants is a winter tradition. Maybe consider adding some foliage plants to our indoor rooms. Sprouting new ideas for our surroundings is therapeutic. I read the other day that new ideas are just like babies….messy, confused but full of possibilities! January is a month for what I call “wet cement” ideas….some dreaming for possibilities are formed but not yet written in stone. Maybe some seed catalogs will plant a seed in your imagination. Imagine some change in your surroundings and landscape and dare to dream for this year!
If you are looking to add some living plants to your home and office but don’t have a “green thumb” you may want to consider Tillandisia.

Tillandsia and moss in glass globe
Tillandsia and moss in glass globe

Tillandsias are what some would call “air plants” and what is more readily available than air? This plant is a great way to air out your “Green”-ances. Tillandisias are low maintenance plants that only require some water. Most varieties do fine with a weekly misting or take it in the shower with you.


Larger plants should be dunked into water in a sink for 10 or 15 minutes a week. Bright light, but not necessarily direct sunlight is recommended, which will produce some color in the plant. After soaking the plant drain the water out of crevices. Tillandsia will also at times produce a bloom that will flower. They also produce pups or “babies” that create a whole other plant.
When using Tillandsias for terrariums or art projects they cannot be used with potting soil or dirt (they are airplants). You can use sand, rocks, pebbles or bark chips. You can also creatively mount the plants on a wire frame, or glue them with a Tillandsia adhesive on wood such as a favorite piece of driftwood.

Tillandsias make good companions for office, kitchen, bathroom
Tillandsias make good companions for office, kitchen, bathroom

There is a plant for any season and any place, even in the dead of winter. A friend told me recently that plants aren’t that hard, you just have to think like a plant. And they make great friends during the long winter days indoors.

Water means Life

Accessible clean water is vital for both us and our plants. We often take it for granted where we live. In other parts of the world however that is not the case. Finding usable water becomes a matter of life or death and is a daily struggle.
Like all living things, plants can get by without food for much longer than they can without water. In fact, 80 to 95 percent of a plant is made up of water, which it uses to replace water lost to evaporation and to assist with photosynthesis. Water affects a plants growth, its resistance to insects and disease and its overall vigor. Proper watering is essential if you want your plants to thrive. Because the plant transpires around 97 percent of the water it absorbs, its main task is to maintain the internal water flow or pressure so that the plant may remain stable and sufficiently supplied.

Water means life
Water means life

Water is life and here in West Michigan we are fresh water rich. Some children in our world suffer due to lack of clean water and we can make a difference. We are reminded again with the humanitarian crisis in Syria that thousands of children suffer and die every week. It seems to me governments can unite to solve a banking crisis but in times of humanitarian need it is people who unite with outstanding humanitarian agencies like World Vision to make a difference.

Once again I’m running with Team World Vision to raise awareness and to help provide clean water for those in need. The needs are real, but we believe that we can end the clean water crisis in our lifetime.

Running with Team World Vision to raise awareness
Running with Team World Vision to raise awareness

$50 = clean water for 1 person for life.

Will you invest in the future and provide clean water for 1, 2, 3, or even more people? We can help change lives, together.

Here is the link below to make a donation that will change lives. Please click on it…….


Thanks for your support!