Wow it’s October. How did that happen?
We have been blessed with a lovely September but there is not doubt that winter is on its way. Many gardeners at this time of the year pull the last tomatoes hanging on their vines and pack up their tools for winter.
But hang on a minute. October is a great month to do a little planting for the winter garden, so before you hang up the trowel (I couldn’t resist) read on.
Here in the Pacific Northwest, October is a perfect time to think about new shrubs and trees and get them established into our gardens. Unlike the heat of the summer, planting now allows you to not worry about staying on top of the water and keeping your new plants alive.
There is little to no transplant shock as the start of October. Rain, cooler weather, moist ground and the natural slowed-down growth pattern of the plants allow for a great start.
Your new additions will have all winter to focus their root balls under the ground, which will build up stems to encourage a healthy burst of colour in the spring.
The next question is what to plant?
As I said earlier, if you want to add some height and privacy and balance out the scale of your house, small trees do well with fall planting.
I would also encourage you to take a critical look at your surroundings and think about what interest you have in the winter garden. All too often I find gardens and large pots lacking in evergreen interest.
Move your sights past the much-beloved rhododendron and cedar hedging and explore some other evergreen options, which can become great bones of your garden.
One of my favourites of late is viburnum tinus or Spring Bouquet. This is a hard-working evergreen shrub that can grow in a variety of locations and looks great all year long.
Its dark-green foliage complements the fragrant white blooms that appear in late winter and early spring. Its next surprise is forming metallic blue berries that grace its leaves all summer. These grow up to eight-feet tall and six-feet wide, so choose your spot carefully. Or be like me and give it a prune once a year to keep it in line and a bit smaller.
Dwarf conifers are some of my favourite evergreen accents. Slow growing and good looking in all seasons, they are hard-working plants that really anchor the landscape. Chamaecyparis nana gracilis (or dwarf hinoki cypress) is an exceptional conifer that becomes almost pyramidal shaped over time.
Often used in the Asian-inspired garden, their tight feathery branches grow out in a shiny ferny shape. Four-feet tall by four-feet wide at full growth, it prefers full sun and good drainage.
If you have a little bit of shade and want to brighten up an area consider chamaecyparis nanalutea, a beautiful golden dwarf conifer.
Placed strategically in areas of green, it literally glows in the garden. Its delicate fan-like branches are pale yellow, and closer to the inside of the plant that are green, which highlights its golden glow. Reaching three-feet tall and three-feet wide, it is an excellent specimen for the garden or container.