Happy almost autumn everyone! It is hard to believe that 2021 is passing so quickly. Hopefully you are all staying happy and healthy working in your gardens!
September is a month of transitions, but it is also a time to really enjoy and evaluate all that you planted through the warm season and make some lists to reference next spring. For more than a decade I have taken notes on what looks great and what needs to be changed. Here are a few of my highlights for this season.
Two of my favorite flowers from summer 2021 are both great pollinator attractors. The beautiful colors and shades of the "Queen" series zinnias have brought me such joy this summer like this Queen Lime Red (left). In contrast on the right is the bright orange, single daisy flower of the dwarf Mexican sunflower Fiesta Del Sol.
2021 Summer Highlights
Best new plants of 2021: Treasure Island Sweet Potatoes
These are a game-changer. The first edible ornamental sweet potatoes to become available to home gardeners. This is my second year trialing them and I am so impressed. The 5 different cultivars offer brilliant colors and textures with delicious foliage and tuber harvests. Yes, you can eat the leaves! I will never garden without these.
Location, location, location!
'Fiesta del Sol’ Tithonia, also known as the dwarf Mexican sunflower is a fantastic fall bloomer. It is well worth growing but make sure you place it in the right spot! This year I accidentally grew it in the back of a border, and it is too short. In 2022 I will remember to get this pollinator favorite in the proper area to be fully enjoyed.
Grow EVERY “Queen” Zinnia you can find!
Queen Lime Orange Zinnia
As a long time zinnia enthusiast my mind was blown with the first flower of ‘Queen Lime Blush’. These flowers are so unique and beautiful. There are a lot of different varieties in the award winning “Queen” series including ‘Queen Lime Orange’ and ‘Queen Lime Red’. I recommend buying seeds for them all!
Want to see all of these plants in action? Join me for a tour of my home foodscape.
Don’t be in such a rush!
Getting a late start on summer planting is THE BEST THING I’VE EVER DONE! I won’t deny that I was frantic back in June trying to get my summer gardens installed. For various reasons I was later than ever, and I thought it was going to be a disaster.
Turns out, planting summer flowers and vegetables in late June and early July is the best thing I have ever done as a gardener in Zone 7. My plants still look fresh, and the harvests far exceed past years. The borders are full but not overcrowded and I haven’t had to rip anything out yet! In fact, I think the garden will look better than ever in time for my fall open garden on Saturday, October 9, 2021. Be sure to mark your calendar and come out for a visit!
We are expanding the garden and purchasing the house next door! We are so excited to have this opportunity and plan to offer gardening and cooking classes in 2022. I am thrilled to have a blank slate to transform, powered by Soil³ compost, of course! I will be sure to share more details as we make progress. For now, follow the Garden House Retreat Renovation Videos playlist.
General Autumn Tips
As the summer fades into a new season with shorter days your tasks in the garden will shift considerably. Some plants will suddenly burst into bloom, celebrating the Equinox. This phenomenon is known as “photoperiodism” and is directly related to the amount of light, or darkness, that a plant is exposed to. Short day (or long night) plants such as chrysanthemums, violets, and poinsettias will begin to bloom when the daylength drops below a particular threshold.
It is also time to get busy planting fall flowers and vegetables. Just be prepared that you may have to offer extra water to compensate for our warm fall temperatures. Pansies, snapdragons, violas, kale, mustard, chard, spinach, and heading veggies like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower should be planted in September-November here in the southeast. (Check out my cool season vegetable planting calendar and more tips.)
Of course, you can plant all of those in containers as well as in your raised beds and garden borders. Here in the southeast, gardening is considerably easier through the fall, compared to the heat and humidity of summer. I want to encourage everyone to grow some cool season plants and take advantage of our mild climate and the opportunity to grow year-round.
Autumn Begins on September 22, 2021
Be sure to enjoy these final days of summer. I look forward to sharing more gardening tips next month!
Did this help you out? Have any questions for clarity? Leave a comment below!