Time to prepare your garden for winter, spring
The trees are bursting with the rich jewel tones of red, yellow, and purple as we head into peak fall color season. Take lots of pictures, then grab your garden gloves. This is also a sign that you have a bit of work to do before those leaves start to fall.
This is a perfect time to transplant or plant new shrubs in your landscape. Soil temperatures are still mild and the plants get lots of sun during the day and plenty of moisture with light showers drifting through. If that red twig dogwood has outgrown its current spot, then carefully dig around it and put it in a roomier location.
Do some basic pruning by getting rid of anything that shows signs of disease or is broken. If the shrub flowers in the spring, leave it alone right now. It is setting its blossoms for warmer weather. Here are a few shrubs you can prune right now:
Barberry — also known as Berberis, this dark plum shrub has a rich color and looks great with lime green foliage of spirea or hosta. Since it has sharp spikes, be sure to use gloves when you reach in there to prune. Cut the tips back by two-thirds so they will keep pushing more shoots out from the base of the plant. They are putting on their fall berries right now, so let them go for the winter.
Butterfly Bush — Buddleja davidii needs to be pruned in the early to mid spring just after Jack Frost is done for the season. It might seem crazy, but you should cut all of the branches down, leaving just a few shoots on the stem. In many cases, the plant will be about six inches above the soil line then grow vigorously this summer. If your butterfly bush has lots of thin arching stems and spindly flowers, it is a sign that it needs to be pruned. Cut it down to its original stem and you will see it flush again later in the summer.
Cotoneaster — Prune regularly in the winter. Get rid of anything that isn't producing foliage or fruit. If they are bare at the base, cut those stems a couple inches from the ground. Snip off over crowded branches to help the plant flourish.
Climbing roses — before you get ready to take down the trellis and cover the climbers before winter, they could use some pruning. Cut out any damaged canes, carefully cleaning your pruners with an alcohol swab between cuts. Then, cut the canes to shoulder height. Once you get ready to put them to bed for the winter, be sure to cover the base of the rose with lots of mulch to keep the grafted area protected from thawing too early.
A bright idea
Don't forget about your spring bulbs! Take advantage of the warm temperatures ahead to plant those beautiful pops of spring color. Grab a couple dozen bulbs of your favorite colors and plant them in clumps for the best display of color. Check the labels and buy bulbs that will flower in the early, mid, and late spring. Layer the bulbs in the same general area based on their size. The larger bulbs will be planted the deepest, then medium and small bulbs on top.
Take pictures of the areas after you are done planting. It will be a good record of your work next spring when you are wandering around wondering where to plant your annuals. Post your progress on my Facebook page Kelly Heidbreder 13abc, so we can share it with your other garden friends.
Contact Kelly Heidbreder at firstname.lastname@example.org. Kelly Heidbreder's column moves back to Wednesdays next week.