Yes, I know we’re all exhausted from the summer from hell in Oklahoma and Texas–or is that just me? But it’s time to start planning for next year’s dream garden. Trust me, it’s time, and who knows? Maybe next summer will be more seasonal. It was the summer before. Look how green my grass was in July 2021 when we had our open garden.
It’s time to plant fall bulbs or order them if you haven’t already.
My fall bulbs are always part of planning for next year’s garden, and are now arriving daily. Why, oh why, did I order so many, and why did I think I could grow camassias? I don’t live in the Pacific Northwest.
Around Thanksgiving, I’ll mix all my bulbs in a wheelbarrow and then scatter them to plant outside. I’m waiting for colder weather, which is scheduled to arrive this Friday through next week. Enjoy those shorts and sandals while you can.
It’s time to order a few more seeds.
Carol Michel and I chatted about ordering seeds on a recent episode. Here’s a link to our Substack newsletter and the podcast episode.
Leave the leaves?
It’s also time to deal with leaf fall, especially if you live in a forest like me. I see the “leave the leaves” campaign is in full swing all over the internet. Like a lot of soundbites, it oversimplifies the issue. Yes, insects overwinter and pupate in leaf litter, but oak leaves are extremely fibrous and can smother turf grasses and smaller perennials, let alone the pansies you planted in October.
My approach to autumnal leaf fall.
I take a multi-pronged approach to all of the leaves that fall here because they fall like snow twice a year. Of course, I don’t live in a subdivision.
I live in a deciduous forest of post and blackjack oaks. I shred some of the leaves and pile them up for compost or mulch. I also blow some leaves off my tiny lawn into the far reaches of the shaded property, so I’ll have fireflies next summer.
There is nothing like sitting on my deck just before dark watching fireflies blink on and off. I look forward to sharing this with Little Bit as soon as she’s older.
I ignore most of the leaves in the shady parts of the property because they will blow as they will. If I lived in the suburbs and only had a tree or two, I would mow my grass with a mulching mower and leave the leaves where they are. I would also pull them back from my perennials in my flower beds or shred them with a weed whacker. It’s up to you.
Just don’t bag your leaves and set them on the curb. In fact, steal your neighbor’s leaves from the curb. Leaf mold is a great garden resource in so many ways.
Maple leaves, like those in the northeast part of the U.S., decay much more readily. Our native elm tree leaves do too.
Oklahoma is full of oak trees.
I wish Oklahoma had more maples, but we don’t, and we should learn to love our native flora and foliage anyway. By the way, Oklahoma has a native maple tree, Acer saccharum ‘Caddo,’ the Caddo sugar maple, but you can grow other maple trees that aren’t native too. I wrote about trees to replace winter-damaged specimens a year or so ago for Oklahoma Living magazine, and the ‘Caddo’ sugar maple was one of the selections if you can find it.
It’s time to plan and plant for fall color in your own garden.
May I suggest Cornus florida ‘Cherokee Chief’ dogwood, a selection of native dogwood with beautiful pink flowers in spring and leaves like this in fall?
Or, perhaps, you’d like ‘Jane’ deciduous magnolia better? I have ‘Jane’ planted next to Acer palmatum var. dissectum ‘Viridis’ Japanese maple in the same border, and while ‘Jane’ just looks green in summer, her leaves turn bright yellow this time of year. The Japanese maple is outstanding too.
It’s time to enjoy Oklahoma’s fall color before the show is over.
I talked Bill into driving the Talimena Scenic Drive starting in Talihina, Oklahoma, making the 59-mile scenic route to Mena, Arkansas. Since we live north of Oklahoma City, getting there is an all-day event. Or, maybe, we’ll go to Beavers Bend State Park, which is even further. I’ve never been there. There are several different fall foliage drives in Oklahoma, and you should partake of them if you can, because we’re supposed to have a killing freeze on Friday morning.
If you’re a beekeeper, it’s past time to button up the hives by making their entrances smaller. I’m actually doing that today. I kept waiting because the weather was so unseasonably warm, and honestly, they live right outside my kitchen door and down the hill.
What do you think it’s time for in the garden? I’d love to know.
Heidi Jasper says
You are right. Life is not as simple as a well-intentioned campaign slogan sounds. I have to take a 3-pronged approach as well. Sadly the woods I live in is full of Walnut trees, so those Juglone leaves get blown off the lawn and beds and borders and into the main woods. When the few maple trees and all the Wild Cherry trees drop their leaves, those are blown into the beds and borders. When the Sycamore trees drop their huge leaves, those are mulched with the mower and then blown into the beds and borders. If it is a mix of leaves, they get blown into the main woods to keep as much of the Juglone out of the flowerbeds as possible. Therefore, I never have enough of the non-juglone leaves to make a leaf-mulch pile.
I’m glad I am not the only one who does mulch and blow leaves for the betterment of our gardens.
Dee Nash says
Hi Heidi, life is always more complicated than sound bites. Your plan sounds like a good one.~~Dee
I love all the fall color in your garden-it’s so pretty! The reds of the dogwood are gorgeous! I have been much more mindful the past few years about adding plants for autumn color. Fall is my favorite season by far and I wish it lasted longer.