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Bridge Gardens | A Note From Rick | October 2017

Bridge Gardens
October 4, 2017

By Rick Bogusch

Autumn is a Time of Change in the Garden...

The changing golden glow of sunlight signals changes in the garden - now is the time to step outdoors and enjoy the colors of autumn as they come into focus.

Native and non-native grasses really showcase this autumn color and one of my favorites is fountain grass, Pennisetum alopecuroides, pictured here. These are located in the inner garden in front of the privet hedge, along with several other types of grasses. Consider adding a variety of grasses that together will make a beautiful backdrop to your garden.

These include Indian grass,  two varieties of switch grass, Panicum virgatum, “Northwind” and “Shenandoah,” and another native species, Panicum amarum or beach grass. During your visits to Bridge Gardens, you may have noticed we have a couple of varieties of Calamagrostis, known as feather reed grass, Briza media, commonly referred to as quaking oak grass, and Spodiopogon sibiricus, or frost grass.

I enjoy the natural grace of grasses - they offer the perfect backdrop to perennials and annuals alike and most provide a source of food for migrating and overwintering birds. I’m always amazed at the many varieties of finch, warbler, chickadee, sparrow and other songbirds that I can’t even identify coming through the Gardens each spring and fall!

We are surely experiencing an active hurricane season this year, and I’ve taken precautionary steps to ensure the safety of Bridge Gardens’ large trees and shrubs by doing some selective pruning. Before you experience damage to your landscape, you may want to consider suggestions I received from our tree partner, Certified Arborist Jackson Dodds.

“"Now is the best time to prepare your trees to lessen the impact of these storms," advised Jackson. "Heavy winds can cause breakage or even topple shallow-rooted trees and shrubs after soaking rains."”

Jackson Dodds

Jackson suggested the following steps to take now:

  • Carefully prune out dead or dying hazardous limbs from your trees and large shrubs
  • Selectively thin branches to allow wind to pass through more easily
  • Contact a professional tree care expert to remove branches located near your home’s wires to lessen the chance of losing power
  • Call a professional Arborist to stake leaning trees as well as attach cables to heavy tree limbs to ensure they stay in place

So what should you be doing now?

  • Divide your perennials.  Now is the perfect time to divide clumps of perennials and transplant them to fill in empty areas, or expand your planting beds and reduce lawn. Be sure to water well to help the new plant establish itself before the colder weather sets in.
  • Plant Trees and Shrubs. If you’re considering the purchase and installation of new trees or shrubs in your landscape, this is the best time of year to do this. Local plant nurseries offer a wide variety of options to choose from, many at after-season prices.
  • For the vegetable gardener, plant spinach for a fall crop and to overwinter for an early spring crop. After frosts, say in early December, cover spinach with a frost blanket, weigh the blanket down and look forward to at least two cuttings in March and April. This is also a good time to plant Asian greens, baby kale, leaf lettuce, arugula and radishes.
  • Start cutting back.  Perennials should be cut back by removing anything that’s brown, dead or dying off. Pull your spent annuals and add early season fall cleanup to your gardening routine.
  • If you’re a seed saver, now is the time as fruits start to ripen.    

Take time to explore your garden - and to explore ours too. There’s always something new to see!

Come visit soon — to relax, enjoy the beauty, and be inspired as you discover the many special places we’ve created at Bridge Gardens!