Renovate, reinvent garden at fall plant sale


October 7, 2011

by Beth Ellis, Victoria County Master Gardener

edited by Charla Borchers Leon,
Victoria County Master Gardener
Gardeners' Dirt
PHOTOS BY BRYNN LEE/VICTORIA COUNTY MASTER GARDENER
More than 700 plants have been propagated, grown and cared for in the Master Gardener greenhouse at Victoria Educational Gardens in preparation for the upcoming fall plant sale on Oct. 15.
Various small trees, shrubs and perennials with colorful blooms as well as foliage will be for sale for fall planting. More than 2,000 plants overall have been grown and will be donated by Master Gardeners with some ordered from nearby wholesale nurseries. All proceeds benefit Master Gardener educational programs and Victoria Educational Gardens.
Woo Hoo! Fall's here, and so is the Victoria County Master Gardener Association plant sale. Now you have the chance to restore, renovate or reinvent your garden by attending the fall plant sale Oct. 15. The event will take place in the Master Gardener VEG Pavilion, located next to Victoria Educational Gardens at Victoria County Airport. The sale will run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., or until plants are sold out. Get ready, set and go there early for the best selection.

Fall Planting Time

It's certainly true that the current drought has taken a toll on both gardens and gardeners. People and plants alike have struggled through the last several months of heat and dryness, but fall and its cooler temperatures (and with any luck, some rain) are here to offer replenishment. So, let's pick up our shovels and trowels and get back to work reinvigorating our tired flowerbeds.

Bed preparation

Now is the time to clean up our flowerbeds in anticipation of a beautiful spring - but first remember to take advantage of the last of the seed bounty offered up by this summer's annuals and perennials. Gather and air dry seeds, and then store them away in a dark, dry, cool place (like your refrigerator) until next spring. Next, pull out those plants that have given up the ghost to the summer heat, and make them valuable again by adding them to your compost pile.

It's also a good idea to take a soil sample now if you haven't had one done lately, to see where your flowerbeds stand as to nutrient levels. Re-dig your beds to loosen compacted soil and work in old mulch, and add some soil conditioner and compost to improve drainage and aeration while you are at it. Depending upon the results of your soil test, you might wish to add just a touch of phosphorus at time of planting. Phosphorus encourages root development, which will give your fall plantings a good solid foundation by the time next summer's heat rolls around. However, remember that when it comes to phosphorus, a little goes a real long way. Too much of the stuff and you'll end up inhibiting plant growth rather than encouraging it - and polluting the environment. Follow the guidelines provided by your soil test, and by next summer, your plants will be fat and happy.

Once your flowerbeds have received a good once-over, they'll be ready for all the treasures you will find at the upcoming VCMGA plant sale.

Advantages of fall planting

Even though most books and magazines seem to focus on spring as the best time to plant (who writes those anyway?), Southern gardeners "in the know" realize the value of fall planting. Living this far south, we know that getting plants in the ground now before the cool season starts will provide additional time for plants to develop root systems that can handle next summer's heat. Of course, that means we sometimes have to scramble to protect new plants from a winter freeze or two - but . life has its challenges. Just remember to take into account seasonal changes regarding sun, shade and moisture, and then put the right plant in the right place.

Give your plants the fall watering that they will need to get established, and just before cold weather starts, be sure to tuck your floriferous treasures in with a blanket of insulating mulch. Your plants will thank you with a fine show next spring!

Plant trees in the fall

The best time to plant trees is in the fall of the year, that is, if you have sufficient moisture . . . and this year you may have to pre-water to successfully accomplish that. To do so, pre-water the area where a tree is to be planted starting now - or a week or two before planting it. Water with a soaker hose placed back and forth about every foot across an 8 feet by 8 feet area. Wait a week and then plant. There will be various species available at the plant sale including some nice Shumard and live oaks among others.

'Sneak peek' of plants

Here's a tiny "sneak peek" at what you'll find at the VCMGA plant sale:

*Dwarf Pomegranate - great in the ground, in pots, and as bonsai

*Royalty Crape Myrtle - Small trees with purple - pink blossoms, great fall leaf color, and attractive bark

*Pink Abelia - "Edward Groucher" - this honeysuckle relative is a butterfly magnet

*Orange Zest Cestrum - Glossy leaves, golden-yellow flowers, and drought tolerant

Various other interesting trees, shrubs and perennials are on the list depending on potential availability. Look for more information on these plants highlighted in next week's article.

Garden-related books

There also will be books on various garden subjects, including our very own VCMGA cookbook filled with mouth watering, time-tested recipes.

Get ready, set and go. Plan on coming out early to the plant sale, and see what you can pick up to fill that void or replace those plants that have been struck by the drought in your landscape.
IF YOU GO:
WHEN: Saturday, Oct. 15-- 8 a.m. until 2 p.m (or until sold out)

WHERE: VEG Pavilion ~ 283 Bachelor Drive ~ Victoria Regional Airport

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2000-Plus Plants Expected

Propagated/grown in the VEG Greenhouse

Donated from Master Gardener Landscapes and Gardens

Ordered from area wholesale nurseries
The Gardeners' Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas AgriLife Extension - Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or vcmga@vicad.com, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.