Gardening in late summer/early fall brings challenges such as fatigue, disinterest, burnout and, yes, even laziness. These hurdles are not by any means insurmountable, but they can feel overwhelming at times. What can help to overcome this is inspiration, which keeps us motivated (and perhaps it gives a swift kick to the lazybones in all of us). When it’s hot outside, perhaps we’d rather be sipping cool drinks beside a lake or paddling pool — anything other than weeding, trimming and tidying the unruly space that is a garden at this time of year. Here are a few suggestions to help you with the “August garden blues.”
Go for a stroll around your space, garden, patio, deck, estate or otherwise
Take your time and appreciate the hard work you (and your plants) have accomplished over the growing season. You can write this down in a notebook or record it by taking photos. Often, we don’t notice the subtle and not-so-subtle changes that occur year after year in our plots and patios. Even the smallest change can bring some inspiration. For example: these strawberries pictured below were devoured by happy little people — and now we’re getting a whole new batch!
Plant a fall vegetable garden, in pots or a plot
Really! Do this! Low-maintenance, cool-weather crops are fairly quick to mature, particularly at this time of year. They don’t take up much space; they’re easy to plant, nurture and harvest; and they’re perfect for time-crunched gardeners. Super-bonus: with carrots and parsnips, a frost or two really brings out the sweetness — in case you forget, or are too busy, to harvest.
Here is a list of crops to plant now in order to harvest by Halloween. They don’t need any coddling; plus, weeds are slowing down at this time of year and you can be eating fresh vegetables for much longer than anticipated. All of these are just as happy grown in pots and containers as they are in the garden. In case of an early frost warning, throw an old sheet over them in the evening or bring the pots inside.
Try: Lettuce, spinach, arugula, bok choy, mustard greens, scallions, kale [pictured below, with chard], radicchio, chard, cilantro, beets, radish, carrots, parsnip.
Another time-honoured strategy for perking up your garden spirits is fall flowers: either perennials or annuals growing in your garden, or bountiful harvest containers that are ready-made and easily found at garden centres. Autumn colours abound: russets, burgundies, glowing orange and yellow — a perfect combination with the purple of asters or white and pink Japanese anemone (which makes its dancing debut in early fall when we most need a shot of delicate pastels).
Here are a few examples of Autumn flowers. All of these are perennials, except for the fabulous dahlia, which I recommend trying, at least one, for its colour and size and attitude. Most of these are native and easy to grow.
Try: Dahlia, Asters, Vervain, Black-Eyed Susan, Purple Cone flower, Turtlehead, Japanese Anemone [pictured, top of post], Mums, Heliopsis, Phlox, Goldenrod, Russian sage, Sedum
Why not spend a few hours perking up your late August garden? Let me know in the comment section how you add inspiration and colour to your garden at this time of year.
All photos by Jennifer Tibbitt.