Archived Story

Do it in the fall for spring flower bed style

Published 9:56am Monday, August 27, 2012 Updated 11:57am Monday, August 27, 2012

Now that the temperatures have cooled down, it’s time to take a good look at your flower beds. You did mark the iris that you no longer like last spring didn’t you?

And, surely you marked the areas that needed more tulips and daffodils.

Well, even if you didn’t do these spring chores, it’s time to take a good hard look at your flower bed. What do you see? Drifts of green iris leaves? A phlox that has sprouted all over and in your other perennials?

That 18-inch-tall penstemon buried in the middle of 3 foot tall gloriosa daisies?

Or maybe, it’s a plant that really looked nice in the nursery or your friend’s garden that either is not doing well or you have decided you just don’t like. No matter the garden problem, now is the time to do something about it.

Start by digging up the too large clumps of iris. Throw away or donate three-fourths of them and only replant the healthiest clumps.

Now is the time to move clashing colors of any flower to an area with a more pleasing neighborhood.

While orange and pink can look OK in a flowered skirt, it may make your teeth hurt if they are next to each other in the flower garden.

Then there is at least one plant that always gets powdery mildew or is decimated by bugs. Dump the darn thing.

The flower season is too short to put up with a plant that constantly needs treatment to look half way decent or even to live.

Many garden designers suggest drifts of the same color or plant. Fine if you can do it, but a bed with nothing blooming but different shades of yellow can be a bit much.

If the plant you hate is too deep-rooted to dig out, reach for the herbicide.

To be sure a nice neighbor doesn’t get the kiss of death too, put a cardboard box or a paper bag with the end cut out of it for a barrier. Don’t spray in the heat of the day as the drift could kill wanted plants, too.

Thin any plant that is crowding its neighbor. If it is blooming, mark it and do it later.

Ideally, you want each plant to have room around it for proper air circulation.

Now that you have holes in the garden, take a trip to your nearest nursery. Perennials are on sale this time of year. That is one positive.

Another is that if you need color now, there are many plants to pick from. There is plenty of time for your new or transplanted babies to get a good start before freeze-up.

Whatever you do, don’t just settle thinking, “well, it looks OK. And it’s too much trouble to do anything about it now.”

Put on your big girl panties and get out that spade or fork.

In the end it is well worth it, and you will have less work to do in the spring

 

Bev Johnson is a master gardener in Otter Tail County.

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