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Columns

September 9, 2013

Good time to take care of garden chores

September is one of my favorite months to garden.  

The temperatures are cooler, the summer humidity is over, the biting bugs are gone and most weeds have sprouted. The excitement of watching the garden grow is diminished, but I get a lot of satisfaction knowing the work I do weeding, edging and cutting back will last more than just a few days. In summer, the weeds jump right back, but this time of year, my hard work stays noticeable for a lot longer.

My gardens are far from boring to look at this time of year, and this is one of my busiest months for garden chores. New England asters are at their peak bloom right now, and the garden phlox is beginning to wane but is still giving a nice show. I love watching the color changes that my sedum “autumn joy” goes through from late summer until snow falls. Mine are a rosy pink right now but will soon be turning burgundy as the nights get cooler.

The annual flowers are really hitting their stride now. I’ve become very fond of the profusion series of zinnias. They are very different from the classic tall-cutting zinnias. The profusion types form a broad mound about a foot across and high, with lots of small, single blooms about 1 inch in diameter. They are resistant to the leaf spot diseases the traditional zinnias struggle with and produce lots of blooms once they get going. I like to pick sprigs of these plants for small vases indoors. Each sprig consists of a few branches, leaves and several flowers. Zinnias are sensitive to frost so it would really pay to cover these on the nights that frost is in the forecast. They will continue to bloom well into October if you can protect them on those chilly nights. Marigolds, begonias and ageratum are also very sensitive to frost. Petunias, geraniums and calendula are much tougher and don’t need as much protection from the cold.

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