SEPTEMBER IN THE GARDEN
How is your garden looking? Ours is alarmingly overgrown and I’m feeling overwhelmed. This summer, even more torrid and wet than last year’s, has seen explosive growth of all plant material: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Conditions have also favored increased populations of pests and diseases. And it‘s been less than pleasant dealing with all of this except in the early morning or the evening when a sea breeze gently caresses one’s sweaty brow.
But temperatures and humidity should be retreating so now’s time to get out and start taming the landscape. Work early or late trying to keep out of direct sun, mosquito-proof yourself, wear sun-block, long sleeves to prevent scratches and bites, and drink lots of water. It’s so easy to become dangerously dehydrated. Don’t wait ‘til you’re thirsty. Drink water – frequently and lots of it.
For best results and a feeling of accomplishment focus on one zone at a time (why is this so hard for me?) and limit your time to avoid exhaustion. I’ve learned the hard way to come inside before I begin feel tired in order to avoid being wiped out for the rest of the day.
This is a fun time of year to garden and to plan landscape enhancements. Think in terms of your overall landscape considering the major elements of landscape design: mass, form, line, texture and color. In the landscape, they are used to transform space and create a unique experience. While color and texture add interest and richness to a design, it is mass, form and line that are critical to organizing space and providing structure. I’ll be sharing information on landscape design on the “Seaside Gardener” blog on our GC website soon.
Meanwhile below are good places to explore, keeping in mind that on the barrier island we are now classified as Zone 10A; however, many plants that flourish in Zone 9B will do well for us.
What to Plant
Annuals/Bedding plants: If summer beds need refreshing there’s so much to choose from. Try cleome, cornflower, dianthus, coleus, cosmos, gaillardia, impatiens, marigold, phlox, vinca, salvia, zinnia, ageratum, celosia, and wax begonia for color into fall. Wait until October to plant petunias and pansies. See excellent website Annuals
Trees: All varieties
Shrubs: most varieties. Consider placing native shrubs, like beautyberry, marlberry, firebush, and dahoon holly, where you can view the birds that enjoy them. Consult The Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Guide to Plant Selection and Landscape Design and Shrubs:
Bulbs: Bulbs to plant include African lily (Morea sp.), amaryllis, crinum lily, society garlic, Aztec lily, calla lily, narcissus, shell ginger (Alpiniazerumbet), gladiolus, spider lily (Hymenocallis), and rain lily. Add color, texture, and pattern to the garden with the many varieties of elephant's ear that are available. Plant gladiolus bulbs every two weeks to stagger blooming, staking each plant as it gets tall. See Bulbs for Florida
Herbs: Plant herbs that tolerate the warm temperatures of early fall, such as Mexican tarragon, basil, chives, garlic chives, sage, sweet marjoram, thyme, mint, and rosemary. See Herbs
Strawberries: Prepare planting areas by adding organic matter and then plant. Strawberries can only be only planted in South-Central Florida during September and October so don’t delay.
Vegetables: Numerous cool-season (as well as warm-season) crops can be planted. See Vegetable Gardening in Florida:
Vegetables that can be planted this month are beans, sweet corn, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, English & southern peas, summer squash, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, celery, collards, endive/escarole, kale, leek, lettuce, mustard, onions (bulbing, bunching or multipliers), turnips and radish seeds.
UF recommends looking for these vegetable varieties at garden centers and in catalogs: Sweet peppers (Big Bertha, Early Calwonder, Jupiter, Sweet Banana and Yolo Wonder); hot peppers (Habanero, Hungarian Wax and Jalapeno); and green beans (Bush Baby, Bush Blue Lake, Cherokee Wax, Contender, Harvester, Provider, Roma and Tendercrop).
Vegetable seeds that can be started in early September for transplanting in October include beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts (try “Bubbles”), cabbage, cauliflower, celery, collards, Chinese cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, mustard, English peas, and spinach. Bees love, love, love broccoli and arugula blossoms.