These are the days when the gardens are ready for a nap when the air is brisk when we are pleased with our homes. The gardener has faith in the rhythm of the seasons, in the succession of seedtime and harvest.
More shade trees are severely injured and killed by sunscald than any other one factor and yet this is easily prevented by loosely wrapping the trunk with burlap from the ground up into the branches as soon as the tree is planted. Oaks and maples are especially susceptible to this injury.
A cold pit is merely a coldframe dug 3 or 4 feet deep. It is usually lined, if not with concrete, with a rot-resistant wood such as cypress or redwood. Set your coldframe on top of this and cover it with sash and boards during the winter. It is an excellent place to winter boxwoods, torchlilies, and other half-hardy perennials. It is an excellent storage for the bulbs that have been potted for winter bloom.
The propagation of plants is a fascinating topic. A small box 6 or 8 inches deep filled with 3 inches of sand or sand and peat moss and covered with glass may be used to root cuttings of house plants or of perennials that have been potted and started into new growth. The whole family will get a lot of fun and pleasure from this miniature greenhouse.
Should shrubs be pruned at the time of planting? Most people would say yes, but in any good soil shrubs which are bushy, well developed, and perfectly hardy do not need to be cut back. This is true of the viburnums, the privets, the lilacs, the honeysuckles, and many others. On the other hand, straggly, few-branched shrubs, such as the Aronia, and those that often die back during the first winter, such as weigela, Tamarix, and similar ones, are benefited by having 2/3 or 3/4 of the top removed.
Evergreens. A few choice evergreens add charm to a garden. Three low-growing varieties that may be used in the rock garden, perennial borders, around the pool, or in foundation plantings are Mugho Pine, Pfitzer Juniper, and Japanese Yew.
Winter Protection. Don’t be in a hurry to cover up for winter. Wait until the ground is frozen.
Perennials. Trim off taller plants of the perennial border and put them down for winter covering. Leave dead stalks of medium or low-height plants to catch protecting snow. Because many of the peonies are troubled with bud blight, it is unwise to use peony tops to mulch peonies, as this is one of the easiest ways to carry over the disease from one year to another. Sanitation is the best way to eradicate this disease.
Lawn. Do not clean leaves off the lawn unless they are too thick. Let them lie for protection and for mulch. Put on the compost pile leaves that have to be cleaned up; never burn them.
Window Box. Have your nurseryman make an outdoor winter window box of small evergreens. Some of the most beautiful evergreens for this purpose are rather expensive, but with care, they can be planted in the garden in the spring. Some of them are the various low-growing junipers. For a temporary and cheap but beautiful effect, seedling spruces, arborvitae, and Douglas-fir may be used. Be sure to realize that the evergreens in the window boxes are giving off moisture thru-out the entire winter, and if their roots are dry they are sure to die when spring arrives if they live that long.
Delphinium. Scatter coal ashes over delphinium crowns to protect them from slugs.
Rhododendrons. Pile oak leaves several inches high around the base of rhododendrons and other broadleaf evergreens.
Water evergreens before ground freezes.
The West Coast
Crapemyrtle may be planted in southern California and the warmer regions of central California. Along the coast the fog produces mildew.
Fallen leaves and garden refuse should be saved for the compost pile. Such material will soon decay.
Poinsettias should be fertilized with a complete plant food, for they are heavy feeders.
Chrysanthemums should be trimmed back but left in the ground until spring for the new crop of cuttings.
The snowflake (Leucojum vernum) is preferable to the snowdrop in California.
The bulb beds should be planted with Primula malacoides, which will self sow, and seeded with forget-me-nots.
Trees and shrubs, both deciduous and evergreens, may be transplanted now. They profit by the early root growth secured by early planting.
Planting. Continue to sow seeds of annuals and vegetables, and set out plants and bulbs.
Bulbs. Tubers of Blue African-lily (Agapanthus umbellatus) can be planted anytime from now to March. Amaryllis and Tigridia bulbs can go in anytime now. Give beds of Dutch bulbs another careful hoeing to keep down weeds.
Evergreens. Hardy broadleaf and needle evergreens are transplanted this month and next.
Poinsettias are at their best in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations.
Sweet Peas, according to the Creoles of New Orleans, should be planted on November 1. One method of planting Sweet Peas is to dig a trench, covering the seeds with only a few inches of soil at first, and filling it gradually as the plants grow. The more modern way is to prepare your Sweet Pea bed to a depth of 3 or 4 feet and put in good soil and manure. A bed such as this will last a number of years. Unless deeply rooted, the plants cannot stand hot weather in May.
Transplant azaleas from the time the flower buds are set until they are in bloom. Give established azaleas a fall application of leafmold or peat moss.
Hedges to be planted in Florida now are the box, laurel, privet, Australian-pine (Casuarina). Bamboo, camphor, and yaupon; all make splendid hedges. Then for informal-flowering hedges, there are the poinsettias, Abelia, crape-myrtle, oleander, Buddleia, hydrangea, lantana, Hibiscus, Plumbago, azalea, and turkscap (Malvaviscus).