September is a month that feels like transition and new beginnings.
I like to think of it as the start of a new year more so than January. This is likely because so much of our lives are tied to the school calendar and it just makes sense in my world.
There is a chill in the air at night these days, but the fall equinox, which marks the official start of autumn, isn’t until the 22nd of September, so soak up the rest of summer.
There are two equinoxes every year – one in September and one in March – when the sun shines directly on the equator and the length of day and night are relatively equal.
Greek folklore tells us the fall equinox is when the goddess Persephone returns to the underworld to be with her husband, Hades. It’s a good time to enact rituals for protection and security, as well as reflect on the success or failure of the previous months.
On the success side of the garden are the groups of hydrangea quercifolia we’ve been planting. The oak leaf hydrangea is slightly different than the more common mop head variety and adds contrast and substance to your garden. A personal favourite is the Snow Queen.
The Snow Queen’s pyramidal flower heads usually appear in mid-summer and last well into the fall. Its oak-shape leaves, hence the name, turn purple/plum in the fall and once the leaves finally drop the bark is cinnamon coloured all winter long. The amazing flower heads are comprised of tons of small white flowers that fade to rosy pink the longer they age on the branches.
This shrub forms a beautiful mound and grow about five feet tall by six feet wide. They look fabulous planted in groups if you have the room.
They grow well in light to open shade but can take full sun if you are good about irrigation and grow in zones 5-9.
For those of you with smaller spaces or patios, try hydrangea quercifolia pee wee or munchkin. These are smaller varieties with munchkin, growing only three feet by three feet. And remember, when small shrubs grow in pots and containers they are naturally “pot bound,” which slows their root growth and usually the plant stays smaller than it would in an open garden.
On the failure side of the garden, I regretfully note that my spring planting of garlic didn’t do very well. The early hot-dry temperature in the spring combined with being away for six weeks didn’t do the poor things any favour. The good news is that fall is the perfect time to plant garlic so if you haven’t done so yet, add it to your list.
There is nothing better than fresh garlic from the garden, which bares almost no resemblance to the dried up heads from China you see in the grocery store. And if you frequent the farmers markets you will see the price of local organic garlic is up there with gold so it makes good sense to grow your own.
Stay tuned next article for the ins-and-outs of growing good garlic.