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Common Sense Tips to Beautify Your Fall Garden

Common Sense Tips to Beautify Your Fall Garden

By Lee Dobbins

asterThere is probably nothing as beautiful in this world as fall gardens. While spring and summer are characterized by healthy greens and wintry gardens are known for having pristine white beauty, gardens in the autumn season are showered with various colors ranging from bronze to red to fiery oranges, not to mention other colors of the rainbow which you can see on flowers and fruits.

Still, making those colors appear at the right place and concealing the moribund effects of fall on gardens at the same time will take patience, effort, and extreme care. Here are some tips to make your backyard one of the most perfect fall gardens in town:

Using Fall to Prepare for Other Seasons
Fall is the best time to start growing plants that you intend to bloom in the spring. Do not forget to prepare your soil accordingly so that your spring plants will grow beautiful and healthy.

Roses in Fall
Fall gardens will certainly benefit from the loveliness of roses. These flowers, however, must be given extra attention during autumn because neglected roses face the strong possibility of dying once winter sets in.

Flower and Plant Suggestions for Fall Gardens
There are certain flowers and plants that are lovelier to look at when they bloom in autumn. Examples of plants and flowers commonly blooming in the fall are the following: chrysanthemums, pansies, turnips, and even decorative varieties of cabbage.

For a more unusual variety of flowers and plants in your fall garden, consider the following suggestions:

  • Aster - Fall gardeners can choose from pink, white, and blue when adding asters to their plant collection.
  • Mums - This type of plant is best grown in masses so make sure that you provide sufficient space for them.
  • Plumbago - This plant will give your garden a colorful carpet; for maximum results, plant plumbago when it can benefit from great exposure to sunlight while making sure that the soil is dry but fertile.
  • Russian Sage - This type of plant possess gray leaves and flowers in different shades of blue.
  • Tickseed - With a great likeness to daisies, this type of plant can be used as a border or ground cover. Plant this when it can benefit from great exposure to sunlight as well.

Remember, however, that certain plants, like the magnolia, are better to plant in spring rather than fall.

PlumbagoFrom Summer to Fall
The transition between the two seasons can be quite damaging to most plants, especially those that live in flower pots or containers. To minimize the damage to your plants, make sure that you water them diligently and stay alert for any signs of dryness.

Letting Plants Flowers R.I.P.
It's inevitable for some plants and flowers to wilt and die during fall. In the case of flowers, make sure that you cut them off immediately and let them dry. Take away the seeds, place them inside an envelope, then set them aside until it's springtime and you're allowed to plant them again. Of course, you also have the option of letting nature take its course by planting the seeds on the ground.

For trees and plants, on the other hand, it's best to cut or prune any dead part of the plant immediately. Make sure that you also give them one good shower before winter sets in and forces your flowers and plants to hibernate. Consider hiring a professional as well to subject plans to professional thinning.

Taking Care of Lawns in the Fall
If your fall garden is made up of a lawn and flower beds, there is nothing really to beautify when it comes to your lawn, and all you can do is just make sure that it will grow back to its original loveliness come spring. For the meantime, you can aerate your lawn to increase its healthiness.

Since there's little to harvest in fall, the most efficient way to spend your time during fall is just to mow your lawn or sing your flowers and plants to sleep.

While gardens can certainly remain beautiful in any season, Mother Nature certainly lightens the load on our shoulders during fall. With the naturally changing colors of leaves in autumn, all we need to focus on is creating a perfect autumn setting for our garden, and our back or front yards will immediately look like a doorway to paradise. Just sweat a little, and Mother Nature will do the rest!

Lee Dobbins writes for where you can learn more about wind chimes and discover the world of glass wind chimes.

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Creating A Balcony Garden Oasis

Creating A Balcony Garden Oasis

By Lee Dobbins

tulips2Having a garden is one of the highlights of summer for many people but not everyone has a yard in which to plant flowers. Luckily, there are a few ways that even apartment dwellers can enjoy gardening.

If you are fortunate enough to have a balcony or deck off your main living area, you can use containers to turn it into a mini garden. Today, you can purchase containers that hang right on the railing without any invasive installation and large pots can be used on the decking. If you have a roof above your balcony, you may even be able to install hanging plants. Just be sure that you review the rules of your apartment complex before you add anything to your outdoor area.

When choosing flowers or plants for your outdoor area, you want to be sure to buy plants that will thrive in that environment. If your apartment balcony is shady then you want to get plants that like the shade. If it has blazing sun all day, buy ones that can take the hot sun, or be sure to move them into the shade during the noon heat if they specify that they are for partial shade. Buying annuals is probably a best bet as they will flower all season and you won’t have to deal with them in the winter.

When selecting your containers, be sure to get ones that have good drainage. You may even want to add some small rocks on the bottom to provide additional places for water to go. If you will be putting the containers on your decking, be sure to buy saucers for them so the water doesn’t seep onto the deck and stain it - if you don’t you might find yourself forfeiting your security deposit or re-staining the deck when you move out. Before drilling holes for hanging plants, be sure to check with your landlord or apartment caretaker.

Be sure to use a good potting soil for your plants and water thoroughly. Plants in containers can dry out rapidly and you may have to water them every day. Be sure that you don’t over water, you want the soil to be moist with no standing water. Container plants do well when fertilized about once a month with a general fertilizer or one made specifically for your type of plant.

In addition to planting flowers outdoors, you can also enhance your balcony area with interesting potted palms and other tree like plants that can be moved into the apartment when cold weather comes and enjoyed all winter long. When arranging the plants, be sure to use pots and plants of varying heights - all plants of the same height will look boring, but if you put together containers of different sizes and heights in groups this will add a lot of interest.

Be sure to check your plants every day and pinch off any dead flowers and leaves to keep your balcony garden oasis vibrant and fresh.

Lee Dobbins writes for Apartment Rental Guides where you can learn more about apartment rentals and apartment living.

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Designing Your Flower Garden For Year-Round Beauty

Designing Your Flower Garden For Year-Round Beauty

By Michael Russell

flower gardenSeason of bloom: A big mistake that many gardeners make is to buy only what they see blooming in the garden center in the spring. Their gardens end up looking lovely in spring and early summer, but lack color during the rest of the summer and fall. A balanced flower garden has about one-third of its plants in bloom at any given time. Divide your flowering season into thirds (or fourths, if you live in a long-growth season climate) and choose plants that bloom in each part of the season. Visit garden centers in mid to late summer to fine attractive plants that bloom in those seasons

Flower color and form: Gardeners usually make flower color their top priority when deciding which plants to purchase. Popular garden themes that revolve around color include single-color plantings, such as white gardens, soft pastels, bright crayon-box colors, or motifs to match the color of your house. Although you really can't go wrong in mixing flower colors, some hues naturally go well together.

Color wheels, which you can find at your local art supply store, show the rainbow as a circle of colored slices. Color wheel opposites, such as red and green, orange and blue, purple and yellow complement each other. Colors that form triangles on the color wheel, such as blue, green-yellow and red-purple, also make good combinations. A single hue (such as red) has many lighter and darker colors (such as pink and scarlet) within its family and combining these make single-color theme gardens more interesting.

Red, yellow and orange - called hot colors - jump out in the landscape and can appear closer than they are. Blue, green and purple - called cool colors - blend into the garden and look farther away. Use these colors to achieve certain effects. Cool colors in a small garden can make it appear larger, for example, while hot colors draw more attention to street-side plantings. White also stands out in the landscape, especially in dim light and is useful for planting with more colorful flowers to brighten or moderate the mix.

Flower size and shape contribute to the plant's overall appearance, too. Add variety and interest to your garden by blending plants that produce masses of small flowers with those that bear larger or single blooms.

Plant height and spread: Most gardens have a front, back and middle. To arrange plants by height, put the shortest ones in the front and tallest in the back, just like the lineup for a family photograph. Pay attention to the mature width of your plants and give them the space they need. But watch out for aggressive plants that travel unbidden throughout your garden. These usually creep rapidly above- or underground or spread by numerous seeds.

Michael Russell
Your Independent guide to Gardening
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Keeping Containers Looking Good

Keeping Containers Looking Good

By Michael Russell

container plantThe most inspiring container displays are grown by gardeners who have developed a real feel for their plants and can tell at a glance when they are in need of water, food, a bigger pot or just a good tidy up. If you play doctor with them, your plant will reward you with luxuriant growth. Professional growers achieve this by keeping their plants growing steadily throughout the seasons, so they never suffer from a check in growth by being starved or dried out. It's not rocket science but having a few pieces of essential maintenance equipment to hand is one of the keys to success.

A well balanced, long necked watering can turns watering from a chore to a pleasure. A fine rose on the end of the spout is ideal for soaking seedlings and plug plants without washing them away.

Give container grown plants a liquid feed every seven to ten days. If this seems too much of a commitment use push in feed pellets that deliver nutrients every time you water during the growing season. Water retaining granules can also be mixed into the potting compost before planting up. They are especially useful for hanging baskets or window boxes on south facing sills where they can make the difference between watering once rather than twice a day during hot, windy weather.

Just as having a dog to walk gets you up in the morning, so will having a mobile garden to tend to. Get into a watering routine and you will make light work of it. Water in the morning or evening to reduce evaporation and try to avoid splashing the leaves as this will cause them to scorch when exposed to strong sunlight. At holiday time, move your containers to a shady wall and stand them on special moisture retentive capillary matting fed from a tin bath of water.

In the Autumn, winter and spring months, plants need much less water, although it is surprising how a series of hard frosts can strip the moisture from the compost and this can only be replenished when the compost has thawed out. When the weather's particularly severe, it pays to gather your containers under a warm house wall where they will escape the worst of the weather.

Deadhead your plants regularly as soon as flowers fade. This will encourage a fresh flush of flower buds. Spent flowers left on the plant will usually inhibit further flower production, however, not all spent flowers need to be removed. Busy Lizzies and those super vigorous petunias carry on regardless. Some like marigolds can be snapped off. Others like pansies and nasturtiums can be nipped off by pinching them with your fingernails.

For bushy fuschias and chrysanthemums with lots of blooms, pinch back shoots regularly. Do this by simply nipping off the tips of the shoots. At the end of summer be ruthless and throw annuals past their best onto the compost heap. However, some plants sold for bedding can be propagated from cuttings in late summer or dug up and over-wintered in a frost free greenhouse or porch. They have the potential to get bigger and better every year.

Michael Russell

Your Independent guide to Gardening

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Tip-top Trailing Plants for Containers

Tip-top Trailing Plants for Containers

By James Kilkelly

Bidens ferulifolia
Within your containers, consider planting Bidens ferulifolia commonly known as the "Tickseed" or "Apache beggar tick".

Gardeners who require trailing color for containers or hanging baskets often opt for this native of North America and Mexico. Tickseed stems are quite slender, these fine stems can be expected to trail and sprawl vigorously to around 60cm (24 inches) from a container. The healthy green leaves produced on the many-branched stems are elegantly divided and reminiscent of fern foliage.

During its extended flowering period from early summer to mid autumn, Bidens ferulifolia can be relied upon to produce masses of bright yellow five petalled flowers. Once its flowering is finished, the spent flower heads produce bristled seedpods, which stick like Velcro to your clothes or a passing animal’s fur. This form of seed dispersal led to some gardeners branding the plant with the name "Burr marigold".

Consider planting Sutera cordata commonly known as the "Bacopa".

Just like Bidens, Bacopa is often selected by gardeners who require cascading colour for containers or hanging baskets. This native of South Africa can display flowers of white, blue, pink or purple depending on the cultivar selected. One of the most popular and freely available of these cultivars is Bacopa "Snow Flake", a white variety that I have seen in more than one or two bridal baskets. The almost innumerable white blooms each comprise of five round edged petals, with a yellow centre to the bloom. The vine-like stems are lushly clothed in down covered jagged green leaves.

Consistent blooming is the order of the day with Bacopa, many gardeners report of non-stop flowering from mid-spring up until early winter. If you plant Bacopa in a position with sun to partial shade, regularly water and feed it, then you too can achieve this amazing level of flowering.

Surfinia Petunias
Within your hanging baskets, consider planting Petunia X hybrida "Surfinia" commonly known as the trailing Petunia. The Petunia is originally from South America, among the plants closely related it are the tobacco plant, the tomato and our humble potato. Every second hanging basket I saw last summer boasted this colourful trailing plant, it indeed is common, but common for a good reason. The velvet trumpeting funnels of colour produced when the plant is in bloom are almost too good to be true. Colours available include white, purple red or pink, all over dark green slightly hairy leaves. It is well within the realm of even the most amateur of gardeners to grow a healthy specimen of this plant. To produce quick growth and abundant blooming choose a location in full sun and apply a liquid feed every second watering. If you are tired of the "Surfinia" petunia, another great variety for hanging baskets that may suit you is Petunia "Million Bells"


James Kilkelly runs a professional garden design service in Galway, Ireland. He has a regular gardening column in an Irish regional newspaper. Visit his website at He also regularly posts his expert advice to a gardening community at

Article's original location: Tip-top Trailing Plants for Containers

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