Plan Garden Designs in Autumn for Spring Flowers

By Jay Ladell

Spring ChionodoxaSome gardeners think that fall signals the end of the season and all that is left to do is put your garden to bed.

Actually, it is the prime time for spring planning.  By walking through your garden you can see what has flourished or floundered and make a list of what to purchase for the spring.

A great idea for those planning changes to their property is to visit gardens and photograph what you would like to put into your own space.  To assist you with your plans and to increase your horticultural knowledge, I recommend signing up for a gardening course.

For those you who are less hands on but still want an appealing garden, booking a consultation with a landscaping professional is recommended and best done in the fall to schedule installation in the spring.

A September walk through your yard with a landscape designer provides vital information about your yard and garden conditions. You can visualize the space, explore landscaping options, spot existing problems, check planting conditions, and view the sun exposure.  Most importantly, accurate measurements can be taken for garden landscape designs.

What’s more, pre-booking with a landscape designer in autumn permits the designer to spend more time on your design over winter, often resulting in a better landscape plan. The added bonus is that your garden is given priority over customers who sign up in spring. You will have more time to enjoy your new outdoor space.

Add Colourful Fall Features to Brighten Your Winter Landscape

Fall_GardenOne of my favourite times in Ottawa is autumn when our tree leaves turn from lush greens to gorgeous yellows, oranges, reds and even purples.

If your small lot doesn’t have room for a tree, consider adding a colour-changing shrubs.

The Saskatoon berry shrub gives off brilliant fall foliage. Plus in spring,  fragrant white flowers bloom, and rich, dark, royal blue berries that are full of antioxidants are produced in summer.  The many species of native dogwood shrubs also turn to vibrant red in the fall.  Red Osier varieties have red or yellow twigs in the winter.  Other showy shrubs in the autumn include smoke bush, barberry, blueberries and our native viburnums.  Closer to the ground, bearberry is a wonderful end of season ground cover.

It’s only natural that you will want to spend more time outside in your garden when it is filled with dazzling fall colours.  To keep warm sitting outside in fall, consider a purchasing a fire feature. You can extend your time spent enjoying your garden into November with propane or natural gas fire features that add both warmth and orange flickering flames. Heat lamps are also an option worth considering.

Seasonal Gardening Tip: Plant Bulbs Now and Enjoy Spring Flowers

Autumn is the ideal time to plant flowering bulbs in Ottawa. The beauty of spring bulbs is not just their magic burst of colour. It is that they are so easy to grow.

As many gardeners are aware, some bulbs are gobbled up by squirrels who liken tulip and crocus bulbs to caviar. To improve the odds, plant these bulbs late in the fall, just before the first snow. Choose hardy tulip varieties such as the pink multi-petal Angelique or the Olympic Flame Darwin Hybrid tulip with its streaks of red. Remember not to cut them back after blooming to ensure that they come back.

Try the underused Glory of the Snow that naturalize to create waves of blue, pink or white. Revisit old favorites like daffodils which are available in countless varieties to fit every taste.

There are so many options, that’s why I am generous when purchasing bulbs. I plant from 300 to 1,200 bulbs per property to create large drifts for an impressive  impact.

Choose bulbs that are weighty, firm, and mould-free. Select those that naturalize and can last for up to four years. Store them in a cool, dry place until you plant them.  For best results, get them in the ground within two to three days of purchasing.

Select planting spaces where it will be bare in spring. Do you have late-blooming perennials or shrubs?  If yes, plant them in clumps of five to 25 to create a naturalized look.

Planting the bulbs in the fall gives us hope that something beautiful will happen in spring. For those of us that get weary of the blah winter whites, the vibrant purple crocus and hyacinths and the sunny yellow daffodils give us something to anticipate with delight.


Article originally published in the O.S.C.A.R. newspaper

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