By Stephanie Hudak
This is it folks… The summer season is over, fall is officially here, and the containers will be changed out. I know they look awesome right now. Huge! They are all huge and overflowing the boxes. I must give credit to Erin and his crew for the watering and weekly fertilizing. Keep that in mind when you are doing your containers, they need food. Start out with good soil, add slow release fertilizer but give them a weekly dose of liquid food. But back to the start. The second week of October I will be pulling out all those great looking plants to put in the winter color. This makes people crazy to see me take out such wonderful plants, but if you don’t get the winter plants in so that they can get their roots established, they won’t do well when bad weather hits. And you have to think ahead to when you need your containers to look their best– Christmas tours in Madison!
But, let’s give a last hurrah to the great plants from this summer. Check them all out, remember their names, use them. The Cora Vincas around Town Park are outstanding. Even through neglect they have thrived. When you are looking next year, you can always count on finding them at Thomas Orchard & Nursery in Watkinsville. It’s the only ones she carries. You can’t go wrong with angelonia, which are tucked in many of the pots. The Serenia variety I used was OK and is showing its stuff now but I would go with the Angelface series next year. It is stronger and taller, can stand up to the other plants and still produce flowers. Caladiums… awesome plants. Every one I used withstood abuse and kept on keeping on. And by abuse I mean lack of water, heat, car/truck “debris.” If you ever want to actually see what we get to breathe in from the vehicles that drive through town, look at the leaves of the plants on Main Street – poor things. But for your shade containers, two great companions are any caladium and those awesome autumn ferns.
Have you seen the Persian Shield on the corner by Laughing Moon? That is absolutely an OMG. Yes, it crowded out everything else, but you gotta give it praise. Use that plant but know that it will take over. Speaking of taking over, but in a good way… Dragon Wing Begonias have been the perfect plants for me. Minimal maintenance, minimal watering, no pests or diseases and beautiful performance. They love the shade but they will also grow well in sun after you get them acclimated. And its great companion is, yes, that autumn fern.
Speaking of ferns… If you remember, I left a tropical fern in the container on the corner of Main and Washington (No. 17) to see how it would do over the winter. Except for the aggressive grasshoppers that munched at some of its leaves, it has done great. The big blue/green leaves are so impressive that you should consider this one for your home. There is one in the Welcome Center garden that has done well also, so I’m thinking that with a good micro-climate, you can keep one too. Remember that our “micro-climate” is the heat from all those cars/trucks that come down Main Street. Yours may be a walled-in area, sunny winter spot or, if you are really lucky, your beach house in Savannah. Anyway, seriously consider using Blue Crisp Fern somewhere in your home.
So, change is coming. Check out the containers. See what has done well. But, please, don’t get upset when Jack and I pull out those great looking plants. Look forward to the wonderful new pansies, violas and kales that will grace the pots for the winter.
“He plants trees to benefit another generation.” –Caecilius Statius
Plant a tree, hug someone (or a tree maybe), just be sure to give a hug and spread the love.