Out with the old, in with the new in colorful October

Katsura is beautiful during the fall.

Katsura is beautiful during the fall.

By Steve Smith

Of all the seasons fall is my favorite and October is when it all starts to happen.

There is a crispness in the air, new vibrant colors on the trees, fresh growth on our summer dormant lawns, mums and asters in full bloom, pumpkins and

gourds everywhere, fresh rainfall, colorful berries, and of course pansies and violas. I have started to clean out my summer annuals and veggies to prep the ground for some fall color and hardy veggies like garlic, broccoli and shallots. There is a certain catharsis in pulling out all those overgrown annuals and mildew-ridden squash plants and plunging in a few spring-blooming bulbs and some pansies over the top. It’s a fresh look that will entertain me for the next six months. October is the month to plant your bulbs.

My containers get an overhaul as well. As much as I hate to part company with my 8-feet-tall red bananas, and equally as tall Egyptian papyrus, they just seem out of place on a frosty morning – so they’re headed to the compost pile. Canna lilies will be dug up, hosed off, divided and then stored in 15-gallon nursery pots where they will be covered with damp newsprint and kept in a cool greenhouse where they won’t freeze. Cannas in the ground simply need to be mulched, and they will be fine for the winter. Papyrus and red bananas will never make it through winter, so give them the heave ho.

For the rest of my yard I mostly let it go to sleep naturally: leaving the perennials to set seed for the birds; blowing the leaves off my driveway and into the beds to supply nutrients and insulation; and putting balanced organic fertilizer on the lawn. I mow it an inch higher than I did in summer. AndI I drain the hoses and put away the patio furniture.

As for the garden center, there are also lots of changes that take place in October. For starters, many of the tired summer blooming shrubs and perennials are moved to the back where we hope to clear them out at half price. October is when conifers and broadleaf evergreens take front stage with their coats of many colors. “Carsten’s Winter Gold” mugo pine is already showing its winter gold highlights as is the coveted “Chief Joseph” lodge pole pine. Conifers come in

an array of colors from green to blue, yellow, orange and plum.

The same can be said for several broadleaf evergreens, like Leucothoe and Nandina. These shrubs take on an incredible color change when the nights get cool, changing from boring green to shades of bronze and dazzling red. There are even some perennials, like Bergenia and Wintergreen, that sport a new personality during the dark months of winter. Planting a few of these in containers is a great way to keep the garden interesting.

October also marks the reintroduction of winter heather, rhodies, and camellias, all of which have their buds set for spring and in the case of heather,

are actually blooming with some color that will persist for almost six months.

Pieris “Passion Frost” is another broadleaf evergreen shrub that is covered with buds in October that will finally open to blooms in February and March. Between Camellias, rhodies, and Pieris, the sight of these buds gives me so much hope and anticipation for spring that it makes the end of summer seem somewhat irrelevant.

October ushers in lots of changes for gardeners. Take advantage of the scattered sunny days and embrace the change.

Steve Smith is the owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached at info@sunnysidenursery.net

Chief Joseph.

Chief Joseph.

Fall is the time for hardy vegetables.

Fall is the time for hardy vegetables.

More in Business

Dozens of restaurants, bars try to stay afloat during ban by offering take-out in Arlington, Marysville

Editor’s note: As a public service, the Marysville Globe and Arlington Times… Continue reading

Bees on a delphium. (Courtesy Photos)
Bee all you can be to help these very important insects survive

By Steve Smith Unless you have been living under a rock, you… Continue reading

Arin Losier serves a beer at the new Woody’s bar in Marysville. (Steve Powell/Staff Photo)
Fanny’s opens bar in Marysville, but Woody’s already closes due to virus shutdown by Inslee

By Steve Powell spowell@marysvilleglobe.com MARYSVILLE – It might have been the shortest… Continue reading

Courtesy Photo
                                Colorful carrots are fun to grow.
Veggies taste so much better when you grow your own

Last week I mentioned that it was time to plant your “cool… Continue reading

Food bank volunteers still can connect with customers. (Steve Powell/Staff Photos)
Marysville Food Bank more like a regular grocery store

By Steve Powell spowell@marysvilleglobe.com MARYSVILLE – In an effort to lessen the… Continue reading

Legislative briefly

Bill helps timber over carbon emissions

Find your safe place in your own garden

By Steve Smith Sometimes I feel like the world is spinning out… Continue reading

One of the buildings at the new Villas of Arlington. (Courtesy Photo)
New Arlington apartments offer sliding scale for affordability

SMOKEY POINT – The Villas at Arlington are opening. They offer 312… Continue reading

Winter Passion wallflower.
Take a wallflower for a dance in your garden

By Steve Smith When I think of the word “wallflower” or “shrinking… Continue reading

Life’s a holiday on Primrose Lane

By Steve Smith There is no doubt that spring has sprung. This… Continue reading

Be sure to be kissed by a rose by growing them correctly

By Steve Smith It’s that time of year when garden centers fill… Continue reading

Vote for your favorites in Marysville and Arlington

What are some of your favorite places in Marysville and Arlington? Through… Continue reading