By Candy Venning

If you aren’t seeing any perennial blooms in the garden right now – you definitely have a shortage of Asters, Hydrangeas, Coneflower, Dahlias, Canna lily, Chrysanthemums and Monkshood / Aconitum. So what’s next? Glad you asked; planting, yes planting – hit up the garden centres and get stuff in the ground because you’ll forget what’s where, come spring, and you’ll probably buy a bunch of early flowering things (because that’s what looks good in the garden centre in spring)!

Skip the peonies (unless you don’t have any….wait…why don’t you have peonies???) and get some hardy plants on sale, they may look rough right now but my fave plants for fall plantings are the ‘bones’ of many of my gardens; Liatris, Hydrangea, Scented Roses, Clematis, Butterfly weed/Asclepias, Blue Asters, Coneflowers.

Think a bit about what your winter view may include – is it time to finally get a beautiful multi stemmed Birch out front, plant that yew hedge, get some prostrate junipers in the rockery – now is the time.

And while you’re at it, scatter some Aquilegia canadensis seeds around or buy other native plant seeds or trade/gather, ask friends etc. and prepare thyself for some winter sowing(Google it) especially great for hard to find native plants and fun as well as easy (no grow lights or window sills needed). Winter sowing is exactly what many native plants need to germinate, remember, they evolved to adapt to snow, frost and thaw. I have had great success with Zizia, Pussytoes, Asclepias, Aquilegia, and shade tolerant ZigZag Goldenrod/ Solidago flexicaulis.
Also – time to think about bulbs – and if you didn’t order in advance from @flowerbulbsRus or a similar mail order company – don’t take your chances at a Home Depot or other non nursery. I think this is one of several reasons that folks don’t plant more – squirrels get a lot of the blame but there are multiple factors.
Go for more than just tulips. Why, yes, tulips are the preferred food of squirrels and deer so go for Daffodils. ‘Daffs’ or Narcissus come in loads of colours and sizes, and unlike tulips, tend to multiply vs fading out. Muscari are amazing along the edges of boxwoods or yews or adding a bright blue highlight along the edges or beds and pathways. Crocus is short lived but what joyful colour mixes there are! and bees like them too. Eranthis, AKA Winter Aconite, for earliest colourful flowers resembling short necked buttercups (another pollinator fave and quite shade tolerant). Fritillaria/crown imperial if you want a big bold showstopper, combine it with huge Alliums for a ‘WOWSA’ effect. (and nevermind that the other name for this Fritillaria is ‘Skunk lily’ because that is what stops critters from eating it!) There – you’ve been told :Buy LOTS of bulbs, keep ’em cool and dark and stay tuned! I’ll give you some tips and ‘Do’s and don’ts’ for planting next month.