Sally Mullins

If you haven’t done it, now is the time to be thinking about which bulbs you want to plant this fall for spring blooms.

I know. I know. It’s only August, but many times the most popular bulbs are sold out and why not order now and be sure of getting what you want.

One of these hot summer days, bring out the catalogs or get on the Internet and decide what you need. The Internet is fine for ordering, but I have always found catalogs to be best for comparing and making decisions.

Don’t forget those small bulbs for in and around the tree roots. They won’t arrive for many months, but it’s not too early to order them, so give it some serious thought.

We are at the end of our cutting garden. The naked ladies (Lycoris squamigera) are such a lovely cut flower and I think they get overlooked because they do pop up suddenly. But cut a few and put them in a vase and you will be pleasantly surprised.

They even have a delightful scent. Each bud will open, providing long lasting beauty. Be aware that they curl up on the ends sometimes and require a wide bottomed container.

This time of year many plants are looking ragged, but keeping up with your deadheading will help to not only improve their appearances, but to encourage more growth before fall sets in. Others, like Asiatic and Oriental lilies need their unsightly stems to be allowed to continue to grow.

Wait ’til they get brown and then cut them back. This also applies to your tiger lilies. Just as the foliage on your daffodils nourishes next year’s bulbs, the lilies do the same.

Trim your geraniums back, continue to feed them and they should bloom well into fall for you. We had some that grew too well through the winter and early in the season and we finally had to give them a good pruning.

They’re 5 or 6 years old and this year they’re getting a good rest. New growth has begun and they’ll be good for at least another 5 years.

And while you’re at it, it’s not too early to groom your Boston ferns and we all know what a mess that can be. Lay out a sheet and do your trimming on that so you can clean it up easily.

Hot weather means you can take a break from gardening and go visit some yard sales for items you may need this fall and winter. Many items can be repurposed for use in the garden if you use a little imagination. That plastic sled makes a lightweight carry-all for a trip around the yard to gather up the days’ tools.

Old flatware is just the right size for working in your houseplants and a small sturdy table does not need to look good if you use it for repotting. As always, bed sheets are useful for covering in case of a late frost and many other things you can’t use a heavy cover on.

And don’t overlook plastic tablecloths and shower curtains. They fold up and can be stashed in your trunk, waiting to hold plants from the nursery next spring. They are also good for the bottom of your truck bed when you’re hauling plants or bags of mulch.

Unusual planters and vases are just waiting to be discovered. Keep an eye out for “real” tools for the kids. Used trowels and hand rakes are kid-sized and always better than plastic ones. Even a small wheelbarrow is handy.

This is the time of year some folks are ready to be finished gardening for the season and you may be surprised at what you can find. Of course, as gardeners we know this is not even close to the end of the season.

Artificial Christmas trees that come apart are good to make garlands for your fence. They can be wired together and draped along the rails. Decorate it with plastic balls and bows, roll it up when the season is over and store it til next Christmas.

I hope you are taking pictures and keeping track of your gardening year. I know it’s a recurring theme with me, but anything that makes gardening easier is a good thing and knowing how something did last year makes new planting decisions easier.

Our Gaura came back, but did nothing all year. The snapdragons bloomed nicely for several weeks before the deer ate them. Marigolds are on the list for next year, along with the Cleomes I didn’t get this year.

Looks like a lot of changes are in store for us. But change can be good and that’s how you have to look at it.

Questions can be left at the Hampshire Review office or emailed to me at thegardenpath@hotmail.com. Please put “gardening” in the subject box and leave a phone number so I can get back to you if necessary. 

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