Garden tips for November | November 4, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Real Estate - November 4, 2011

Garden tips for November

Much to be grateful for in the garden

by Jack McKinnon

Gratitude and gardening go hand in hand. There is nothing like a walk in the garden to help us get in touch with what we have and what is beautiful. Often we only see the work that needs to be done. Now is a time to look for what we are grateful for in our lives.

This month's tips will help guide us in observation, appreciation and the often forgotten art of wonder. Gardening is by far the most popular hobby in America. Looking for what is healthy and beautiful in our gardens gives us inspiration to go on.

Here are the tips:

1. Look for the subtle and not subtle fall flowers. These can be hangers on from the summer or fall-blooming plants like chrysanthemums, primroses, pansies and princess flower. Make notes of what you see and put them in your journal.

2. Visit several nurseries and observe fall foliage changes. You can do this on visits to parks and arboretums, too. Diplomatically collect leaves and make table arrangements with all the different colors. If you want some inspiration go see or rent Andy Goldsworthy's movie "Rivers and Tides" — it is the peak of nature art.

3. Try using a magnifying glass to look at flowers and leaves. There are several very good quality pocket-sized optics that bring the amazing colors and textures of the garden up close.

4. Plant autumn crocus, colchicum and spring bulbs if you haven't already. Chill spring crocus, hyacinths and tulips in the refrigerator for six weeks. For bulbs in pots, cover them with sawdust until they are well up. This will keep the rains from digging them out and protect the soil surface.

5. Plant rhododendrons now for a spring show. The rains will give the new plants a chance to establish roots and come spring the show will be on.

6. Cut back fuchsias to stimulate new growth. As they grow out pinch the tips off to fill out the branching. Stop pinching about six weeks before you want your flower show to start. Fertilize regularly with a complete fertilizer.

7. Fall is a good time to take garden pictures. Overcast days create softer shadows and bring out the greens and colors of the garden. At Sunset, the garden photographers often used screens to create this effect. If you pick your photography days by weather conditions you will likely have better results. Don't get wet though.

8. Plant perennials like delphinium, gaillardia, coreopsis, coral bells, campanula, columbine, Oriental poppy, phlox, salvia, artemisia and lamium. Look them up in your garden book on rainy days and buy and plant them in between storms.

9. When fruit trees are completely bare of leaves spray with dormant spray. Pit fruit such as peaches, apricot and nectarines get peach leaf curl and brown rot. Copper or lime sulphur sprays are used to control these. Be careful; wear goggles, gloves and a respirator. Be sure to read all the instructions and warnings on the labels if you do it yourself. Otherwise have a tree company come out and take care of it. Copper and lime sulphur may be organic sprays but that does not mean that they are not toxic — they are.

10. Thanksgiving is on the 27th of November this year. Our lives are seemingly more and more complex and yet our gardens often provide the respite we need to cope. We have so much to be grateful for. Go out into your garden and look closely. You will be amazed at the wonders to be found.

Good gardening.

Garden coach Jack McKinnon can be reached at 650-455-0687 (cell), by email at Visit his website at


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