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Late Summer Garden, Waiting for Fall

We have had hints of fall, especially when the remnants of Hurricane Irma passed through. Irma was only a ghost of herself that brought welcome relief from the heat and lots of rain to us, but fortunately not much wind. Soon summer's heat and humidity was back. But summer may truly be winding down now, with more moderate temps returning this weekend and into next week. I am so eager to get back into the garden!Lycoris radiata, or Spider Lily, is blooming now.

Speaking of spiders, it is spider season! All those spiders making webs are hungry females. Spiders are definitely good guys in the garden. This one is a black and yellow Argiope Orb Weaver.

I have a host of chores awaiting me: Weeding, of course! We have had a wet summer, and the weeds have loved every bit of it. My longstanding habit is to weed as I go. I usually yank a few weeds, no matter what my purpose in the garden. A current view of a section of the front garden.

This image is taken of the front garden near the patio. Lots of green right now!A handful of pulled weeds will prevent a thousand obnoxious offspring. Nevertheless, with a garden as large as mine, I dedicate some days to heavy-duty weeding, and a few hours of serious work will yield large lawn bags packed with weeds and a much neater garden. 

Planting and transplanting. Here in the Deep South, fall is the perfect time to assess the garden and to plant new additions. Our ground does not freeze in the winter as it often does in colder regions, so roots have plenty of time to establish themselves before next year's summer heat. I like to put in transplants of lettuce, collards, Swiss chard, and other winter veggies now, too.

I also do a lot of transplanting of plants already in the garden. I am never afraid to move plants that are not happy in their locations. I confess I don't always get it right. I have moved some plants three or four times before finding the right place, or else the poor plants finally died in exasperation.All of these plants have been transplanted at least once. Clockwise top to bottom right: Aspidistra or Cast Iron plant, Hosta 'Blue Angel,' Pyrosia lingua or Japanese Felt Fern.

Pruning. This needs to be done very soon. A few evergreens in my garden need a trim, but not after the first week of October. Beyond that and new growth may not have a chance to harden off before frost hits. One should prune at least six weeks to a month before the average frost date in your area. Here, we usually have our first frost around mid-November.

This is not the time to prune any spring flowering plants, as you would be cutting off next year's flower buds. Those plants should be pruned immediately after flowering next spring. Summer flowering shrubs should be pruned when they are dormant, in late winter or right before bud break in earliest spring.

Raking and clean-up. We may as well love this, as we have lots of trees and lots of fall leaves! It is a great form of exercise. Most important for me is to keep my moss paths clear of leaves and debris, as moss needs air to succeed.Peacock moss, or Selaginella uncinata, and Lady Fern, or Athirium, grow next to my moss path in the woodland garden.

A side path in the woodland garden. The pink and green bromeliads are not hardy and will come inside for the winter, as will the variegated fig on the left in the top image. The colorful New Guinea Impatiens are annuals that will need to be replaced next year.

Bring in my Tropicals. I brighten areas of the garden through spring and summer with potted plants that are not hardy. These all come inside once the temps drop into the fifties. My husband's office turns into a greenhouse.This little dish garden contains Pilea, a non-hardy plant, and a small fern.

I am looking forward to all the above chores. I am dreaming of cool, fresh air and all the wonderful fall colors. Happy autumn!

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Reader Comments (12)

I like the way you present the raking as a great form of exercise. And you are right, of course! I have a similar garden with tons of Oak leaves to rake up. They're just starting to fall now, but I know it's going to happen fast from here on out. We have a lot of moss here, too. Our gardens are similar except for the harshness of the seasons and the temperatures in winter. Believe it or not, we're still in the 90s here this week--record highs! But soon we'll have a nice stretch of 60s and 70s before the crash to colder days. Your Lycoris radiata is gorgeous!

September 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBeth @ PlantPostings

I love that luscious Lycoris! We had a brief taste of fall but now summer has made a comeback. Fall is also our peak planting season and I've already been getting to it, even though October can be very warm here, especially when the Santa Ana winds blow, as they're doing now. Enjoy your fall chores! I hope they're accompanied by birdsong and cool breezes.

September 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKris P

Always a treat to spend a few minutes walking through your garden with you! xo

September 26, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterChristi {Jealous Hands}

Happy autumn Deb. So glad Irma didn't harm your beautiful garden.

September 26, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDenise

You took some really beautiful pictures. Ferns and grasses are like the frame around a masterpiece! Your garden is still full of life. Fall is a magical time of year. The air is cool and smells wonderful. We got rain and some wind from Jose so there's lots of debris on the ground but, we really needed the rain!

September 26, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSally

As always your garden is looking lovely. Like you autumn is when I do most work in the garden - summer is just impossible. I am beginning to think that autumn is my favourite time of year; this may partly be because summer is behind us and we have several months of what can be very good weather.

September 27, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

It's been hot and humid in Tennessee too this last week or so.

No rain in sight, which is a pity since we just had the lawn overseeded :(

I've noticed that even with the heat, it's nice and cool this time of year on the front porch or back patio when they are in shade, so I'm sure your shady garden is relatively comfy even now.

Everything looks great!

September 27, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

Aren't those spiders creepy, but so cool at the same time. We have them in Georgia and have seen them on occation.

September 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKelleyn

I love the picture of the Orb Weaver. Also the spider lilies - we saw lots of them blooming in Japan! The temps around here have gotten back to normal, and with the cool weather I am eager for my bulbs to arrive!

September 29, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJason

You did an excellent job of making an interesting photo of your Cast Iron plant.

What lovely ferns you have! I love the texture of that felt fern! I love fall, though I don't think I am as good at fall garden chores. By now I'm usually tired from the summer, and my garden often gets cleaned up a little more in spring!

October 3, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterIndie

I’m quite inspired by this post to go out to work in the fall garden!

October 5, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRobin Ruff Leja

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