Monday, October 24, 2016

Cover Cropped- Keep Your Soil Active this Winter

At Natureworks, we have a mission to provide cover crops for every Connecticut home gardener. Why? Many customers come in early Spring and find that their formerly lovely beds are filled with weeds, or they look like they’ve been eroded by the harsh winter winds. Maybe they grew tons of vegetables in their beds and never gave them a boost afterward.

Cover crops solve all these problems and more, they’re especially useful for someone who is looking to remediate their soil completely.

Compaction and clay? Break it up with cover crops.

Low fertility rates and a complete lack of nutrients? Nurture the soil with cover crops.

Can’t get ahead of the weeds before prepping a bed? Suppress them with cover crops

Want to try a living mulch?

For an extremely low investment that covers a ton of area, cover crops are the solution to many problems in the garden. Sow them in the Fall after clearing beds, let them fill your garden with green color (and often a delicate flower) and chop them back before they go to seed. This will become what is called “green manure” on your soil. Cover crops will be your first healthy dose of mulch, and your beds will be weed free, not as compacted and full of good nutrients to get your beds off to a healthy start.

See this in-depth view of different kinds of multi-use cover crops written by our longtime friend, Bill Duesing. Available for sale at Natureworks- your next best soil therapy

Thursday, October 20, 2016

October Isn’t Just for Mums Anymore

The New England garden is so full of opportunity in the Fall. There’s this expectation that it’s time for the Winter blues to set in, maybe everyone is out trying to soak in every last ounce of sun they can get before their skin is doomed to be covered for the next 4 months.

While it’s great for you to be out in the garden doing Fall chores, we have to ask- is there still color out to delight you during your hard work? And if there is- do you only see the likes of mums and daisies around? Hey! There’s nothing wrong with mums and daisies, but maybe you’re looking for something a little different... Something that you don’t see when you walk up to the grocery store or pumpkin patch.

Maybe that’s just what you need before the cold sets in, a bit of SURPRISE.

So we simply must ask- are these five plants part of your landscape? Do you have a great team of delightful, surprising garden dwellers who come to bloom or berry just when you thought your garden was growing brown?

Helianthus-‘First Light’ These lovely late perennial sunflowers form dense clumps and get covered in flowers. They’re best grown in full sun and have a very unique pointy foliage that covers their whole stem!
3-4’ tall x 3-4’ wide Full sun

Rabdosia longituba- Nancy came running in with this plant and said “Can you see why one variety is called ‘Tube Socks?!’” and when you look closely, you can see this gorgeous bell-like arrangement of tubular flowers that grow on tall, leafy stems in the shade garden. Wispy, playful and unexpected, this plant is an underused game changer that should be in every perennial shade garden.
36” tall x 36” wide Sun/ part-shade

Callicarpa – When this compact, arching shrub starts to fill out, we always seem to hear people shouting “What!? PURPLE BERRIES?!”  It matches the magical nature of this time of year, giving a showy display beyond compare.
2-4’ tall x 3-5’ wide Sun/ Part-shade

Liatris scariosa- with a species name that sounds like “scary-osa”, it’s a perfect October bloomer. It also loves those rocky, sandy soils and makes an excellent cut flower for your late-season bouquets. When you see the flower, you’ll understand why it’s commonly called ‘Blazing Star’.
2-4’ tall x 1-2’ wide Full sun

Colchicum and Fall Crocus- Fall blooming bulbs are the forgotten children of the garden. Usually when we think of bulbs we’re thinking of popping in things like bulbs like Tulips and Daffodils in Fall for Spring blooms. But what about bulbs you plant in late Summer/Early Fall for FALL blooms? Colchicum are completely pest proof. Although they're large bulbs, they can be nestled between perennials to fill your drab areas with color. Same with Fall-blooming crocus, consider growing saffron crocus with a delightful orange stamen that is harvested for the spice saffron.
Colchicum Double Waterlily planted in Black Mondo Grass

Winter Berry- A native plant that serves a purpose every time of year. The foliage gets brighter and better as the months grow colder until it eventually drops its leaves and shows off its brilliant red berries on slick dark stems. We use these berry-covered stems for stunning Christmas arrangements, and the birds use them for a much needed late season snack. One male plant is sufficient to pollinate 6-10 female plants, so get one of each to ensure cross pollination.
3-12’ tall x 3-12’ wide Sun/ Part-shade

 P.s.- Don’t forget some of the late season soldier, here are some of the late season classics : Sedums, Asters and Anemones provide pollen for our late pollinators and make for amazing photos when filled with sleeping bumble bees on the cold mornings. Keep on planting!