Creating a wildlife haven one plant at a time

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Seasonal Celebrations: Autumn 2013

We have a saying here "Fall is the Southerner's reward for surviving summer" and it has readily become my favorite time of year. Not only is the weather cool in the morning, warming up to gorgeous days but it is such a great time to enjoy all the colors and textures found in nature. Trees, shrubs and other perennial plants put on a dazzling show. It is time for acorns and pine cones, pumpkins and gourds, sunflowers and chrysanthemums, corn husks and dried fruit, and buckeye and cloudless sulphur butterflies. And who can't resist jumping in the leaves?

a view into our woodland garden taken fall

This year we are celebrating fall in our garden by tackling some major landscaping projects. The cooler temperatures certainly make the strenuous labor more tolerable.
This summer we expanded our front stoop and added a retaining wall to break up the slope in the front of the house. I always felt that the front entry was not very welcoming and over the years the shrubbery (which always needed pruning, a chore I hate doing) enclosed the area and the crape myrtle became too large for the space. This front bed is a good example of bad builder landscaping...sterile and always in need of maintenance.

Here is the entry before:


And here is the entry after.


I am really pleased with how it turned out and we use our front door so much more now! I am excited to decorate this area for the holiday seasons but for the remaining summer season I added a bench and pots.


One of the most important lessons I learned when I became a Master Gardener was that fall is the best time to plant. The soil is nice and warm and the cooler temperatures and increased rainfall allow perennials to establish themselves before they retire for the winter.  I held off landscaping the beds that shape this area so that we wouldn't have to continually water the new plants. Little did I know that we would have rain all summer long!
As you can see there is a significant slope on the left side broken by the new retaining wall. I want to use mostly native plants but these beds get full afternoon sun so I am finding it somewhat challenging to come up with some evergreens and structural natives that will provide winter interest. I would be very interesting in suggestions. The remaining shrubbery in the photo will all be coming out so I have a blank canvas from which to work.


Once we decide on the landscape plan it will be time to shop for plants. This upcoming Friday and Saturday is the Hall County Master Gardener Fall Garden Expo. Vendors from all over the Southeast come to sell their plants and garden art. It is a one stop shopping extravaganza. Our event includes door prizes and informational seminars where experts share their gardening knowledge. If you are in the area please come out and see us!
Since Fall is my favorite time of year to plant it goes to reason that it is the best time to attend plant sales. Another local plant sale I am attending is the Bluestems and Bluejeans Native Plant Sale at the State Botanical Gardens of Georgia. (Note: Two other fabulous Fall events to add to the calendar for next year are: the Georgia Native Plant Society fall plant sale and the Yellow Daisy Festival at Stone Mountain Park.)
(Click on the links to get event details)

I will definitely be celebrating when this bed gets planted.


This hill garden is on the lower side of the retaining wall. We began planting it last fall and early this spring. All the plants we chose are here to serve pollinators. Most of them are native with the exception of a few. This fall we will continue to incorporate wildlife friendly plants. Our future plans include adding steps from the path that runs in front of the retaining wall down to the path on the left side of the bed which leads to the back woodland garden.

 (fall blooming plants include goldenrod, ironweed, joe pye weed, purple coneflowers, beebalm, Georgia asters)

Another Fall project is installing a dry creek bed in this area of our side garden. When we get heavy rains, as we did this summer, there is a lot of water flow and wash out here.


After all this work I am sure we will welcome the winter to relax and recuperate and look forward to spring to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

I am joining Seasonal Celebrations at Gardens Eye View. There is still time to join in. A summary of all the posts will be available on the Equinox (September 22nd).

21 comments:

  1. Hi Karin. You have done a wonderful job redesigning your front entry. You have a lot to think about over winter and that will be a great time to think to spring. On that slope, you might make sure you look at drought tolerant plants, or will you have irrigation to allow planting anything you choose? I agree about fall being a welcomed season. Here, it still is summer, but that could change quickly. The extended forecast says no yet, but WNY one can never rely on forecasts.

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    1. Thanks Donna! We do have an irrigation system however, drought tolerant plants would still be a good consideration. We prefer not to supplement water unless absolutely necessary. In fact we haven't used it at all this year. The unusual weather patterns this year really has me wondering what kind of winter we will have this year. I'm thinking it might be extra cold down here.

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  2. A good full sun perennial that is evergreen is Hypericum densiflorum. It also has gorgeous bark. Species is nice but there are a few cultivars out there. I could send you some seed. Nice full sun shrub that is mostly evergreen is Viburnum obovatum,there are some compact cultivars available. A very nice small tree/large shrub that is not evergreen would be Viburnum prunifolium or V. rufidulum.

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    1. I like these recommendations! Thank you Ellen! I knew you would have some suggestions. I will be on a look out for these at our expo. Unfortunately, I couldn't make it to the GNPS plant sale last weekend otherwise I would be all set already! I would love to try to grow the St. John's wort from seed if you have some to spare.

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  3. I love your home and look forward to your garden designs. Glad to see there are a few great suggestions for your GA garden Karin. I bet those plant sales will be amazing!

    Thanks so much for joining in the celebration and all your support!!

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    1. I love plant shopping, don't you? Starting from a blank slate can be a bit overwhelming because there are so many possibilities but a lot of it depends on what plants are available. Sometimes I have a specific plant in mind and then can't find anyone that sells it.

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  4. I love the changes. Like you, I've been waiting for the cooler weather to start on some serious garden renovations. Agreed that the slope is a real challenge if you are looking for winter interest. I'll be interested to see what you decide.

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    1. Thanks Sarah! I'm sure I'll do a post on the new plants. Stay tuned!

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  5. Big improvement already for the front of your house. I think every house we ever moved into I have dug up big blobby foundation shrubs, usually Japanese yew. In terms of suggestions for the slope, have you considered fringe tree, which is a native? Also, snowberry and coralberry are very tough low growing native shrubs that could probably hold a slope. They are not architectural, though.

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  6. You've been busy! The entrance really does look welcoming now. You are brave to make such major changes--but it looks great! It will be fun to see your updates over time.

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    1. It was a project that we had been thinking about for 3 years. I became so displeased with the area that any changes would be an improvement. It turned out better than I imagined.

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  7. You've been busy! The entrance really does look welcoming now. You are brave to make such major changes--but it looks great! It will be fun to see your updates over time.

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  8. Your house and garden are simply incredible! When I lived in SC I had a ground cover winter jasmine that did very well on slopes. It bloomed during the winter with yellow flowers that added a bright spot to winter drabness. It was super tough, had green stems and didn't need much water. You'll love your new river bed. :o)

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    1. Thanks for the plant recommendation. I have will research that one some more. I have Carolina jasmine which I use as a ground cover (vine) but it will grow everywhere when it is happy.

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  9. At first I thought, OMG she removed that tree!! can't help it, I'm a tree hugger. but boy does your front door ever look good now. Looks like a fantastic space and very welcoming.

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    1. It was a hard decision because the bark on the crape myrtle was gorgeous but it was planted in the wrong place and was just getting to big. We are planting other trees in the front garden so it will be replaced in a manner of speaking. :)

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  10. Quite a transformation, Karin ! And what a lovely home you have. Looking forward to seeing what it looks like once you're done planting.

    We've also had much more rain than usual up north this summer too - unlike last year's drought. And at our winter home in Florida, there's been a deluge during the rainy season - early this week they had 8" in a 24-hour period ! And they're significantly above average for the year.

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  11. Your new front entry looks fantastic! Fall really is a wonderful season here, and it seems there are always too many projects to complete. Have you decided yet what to plant on your slope? I look forward to seeing how it looks once it is done. I am replanting a slope this fall, also, though not one adjacent to the house. I have called it my wildflower garden, and it is pretty when it blooms in late summer, but the rest of the year it is a mess. I will replace everything with Spirea 'Anthony Waterer'. I love its flowing shape, perfect for a slope, and it is low maintenance. It blooms beautifully in the spring and sporadically through the summer.

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  12. Glad I'm not the only one that looks forward to winter for a break. I'm so ready for it for it to rain, so I have an excuse not to be outside! I love what you've done with your front entry though, it looks so much more welcoming. The front door seemed to almost be hiding before. The slope will look great once it's planted, but I do know how much work it is to garden on a slope. The advantage is the plants tend to be easier to see, but running up and down those slopes digging holes can be exhausting! That said, I can't wait to see it in bloom!

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"Don't wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden and decorate your soul"

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