2010-09-03 / Columnists

The Diary Of A Green Thumb

Commentary By Danielle, Danielle’s Rockaway Florist

Labor Day Weekend marks the unofficial start to autumn. The kids are back at school, vacations are minimized to a collection of pictures and very fond memories. With all that needs to be done, some find themselves eager to play the part of the grasshopper versus the ant. But this is the perfect time of year to settle ourselves in for the long days of autumn.

First and foremost, it’s about time to prune all things that are looking tired and give them that desperately needed help they are looking for. By trimming back my rose bushes, hydrangea and other such things, you will have more blooms come spring. Start your planning and shopping because you’re going to want to start planting your spring-blooming bulbs. I personally like a wide variety of colors and species, but a mono-chromatic bulb garden is just as eye catching. Bulbs need to winter- most bulbs that is. Things like Tulips, Daffodils, Crocus, Iris and Hyacinth need to take the winter nap- whereas things like Cannes, Dahlias and Amaryllis prefer a cool, dark dry cellar to the cold winter frost.

When planting your “spring’ bulbs, keep in mind the location. Read the packaging and make sure the bulbs you plant will be happy where you place them. Take all things into consideration color choices, varieties and heights of plants to come. What may seem like the perfect spot in the fall may not be the case come spring. Be careful not to plant your bulbs in a spot that is already taken by another type of perennial, or one that may outgrow or over-shadow your selections.

If you bury your bulbs too deep or too close to the surface, they may not come up. Too shallow may result in them freezing over or falling prey to such critters as squirrels, who love to munch on such things as a delicacy!! Bulbs don’t come up at the same time. The first to show their blooms are Crocus. Sometimes even with snow on the ground. These hardy, colorful troopers pop out to let us know that spring IS on the way. Daffodils and Hyacinth will come next and then Tulips and Iris (just to name some of the more popular varieties), depending on how harsh or how long winter stays.

If you’re not quite ready to think about the spring of the future, maybe focusing on the fall garden of the present is for you. Your Hardy Mums should be coming into bloom soon. Focus on feeding your fall garden with a blooming plant food to achieve maximum results and to keep those mums in bloom well into October and November. This will also work wonders for those Jerusalem cherry plants and late blooming Begonias and Cyclamen. If your Hydrangeas have any leftover blooms make sure to clip them before the winter hits. Why not enjoy a vase of these beautiful flowers in your home before they dry? Varieties such as Autumn Haze are great for preserving and will keep their shape and color for a long time.

In July and August I bring my indoor plants outside to bask in the fresh, summer air- so now that autumn is upon us, I have to start the migration back indoors. All indoor plants must be brought indoors for winter; otherwise you may lose them all when the first really cold night passes on us. Before you do this you will need to make sure they are pest free. I have never been one for harsh chemicals and only use them as a last resort. I prefer a safe and “earth friendly” alternative before going that route. Adding a few drops of dishwashing detergent into a full spray bottle of water will work at keeping pests away. Make sure to spray the underneath of the leaves- not just the tops. Pests will use the bottom sides of the leaves as a safe haven from the elements and so you will need to spray every part of your plant. The dishwashing detergent is safe in small amounts so less is more and use it frequently. The pest will drink the water and soon will perish leaving your plants free of bugs and with a healthy gloss to their foliage.

When bringing your plants inside, try to place them in an area that would best simulate the conditions they were in outdoors. If it received full sun, find a spot that gets just as much sunlight. They may go into shock with a drastic change of light so even if you don’t plan on keeping it there, give it a little time before moving it closer to another area of your home. The foliage and flowers on your plants may drop or turn quickly after bringing them back indoors but will bounce back when they become acclimated to their new surroundings. Make sure to feed your plants as well. They will greatly appreciate it as it gives them a boost for the long winter months.

The end of summer can be depressing, so I find that a fresh bouquet of flowers will chase those feelings away. This time of year a bouquet of sunflowers will do wonders for my self esteem. They are big and bright and their color can’t help but to make me feel good. Simply arranged with a few greens and fillers or even some wispy wildflowers, they will make any room brighter and ready for the fall.

Hope those lazy, hazy days of summer were well spent, and that everyone enjoys the changing leaves and cooler temperatures that are ahead. Soon enough we will be putting out corn stalks and stacks of hay, and decorating with fall mums, witches and pumpkins. Feel free to stop in and check out our autumn decorations for the home and garden. Over the next two or three weeks, all sorts of fun and seasonal goodies will be filling our shelves so come in for a peek. You can visit us at 436 Beach 129 Street, or browse on the web at www.DaniellesRockawayFlorist.com

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