Well, folks, we’ve made it to the end of another wacky summer. Hottest July on record (that was a rough one), and pretty darn rainy (although we are still far behind that wonderful summer of ’21 when we opened!). Like so many other gardeners, we have battled mildew and fungus issues, as well as a lot of aphid pressure. Fear not! These native plants are built to handle much of this up and down cycle. While you may be seeing some loss in your garden, I’d be willing to bet a lot of it is due to either the late spring freeze or the incredible rabbit pressure we have seen this summer. I swear, just about every single person who visited our nursery this year asked about rabbit resistant plants.
The truth is, there really isn’t much that those fuzzy buns won’t nibble on. The babies especially are damaging, as they haven’t quite figured out what they don’t like yet, and will snip a plant at the base and leave it on the ground to taunt us. Our best advise has been to protect the fresh plantings with physical barriers for the first season, and when the plants are larger and well established, many should be able to resist the snacking. As with deer, rabbits do tend to leave strongly scented plants alone such as those in the mints and onion genus.
Speaking of protecting tender plantings, do not be nervous about installing more plants this time of year. Typically the early fall is a perfect time to plant, even for plants that are on their way to dormancy. Cooler temperatures help to lessen transplant stress and allow the roots to become established before the soil freezes. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of fall availability of shrubs, trees, and herbaceous species, even if they are past bloom or have not-so-pretty foliage. You will want to ensure consistent watering up until a decent freeze, and if you are planting woody species, do yourself (your back, and your wallet) a favor and protect it with hardware cloth over the winter. It will help prevent deer and rabbit browsing.
Speaking of shrubs and trees, the fall is a great time to plant, for all of the above reasons, however there are a few species that you will want to pay some extra attention to. It’s best to put woody species into the ground as soon as possible, but if you can’t, it is imperative to keep them well watered. If they remain in pots, you should be careful to water every day, and if you aren’t able to get them in the ground before the winter, you should heel in, which means putting them in a pile of mulch or compost, pot and all, out of full sun. These species include maples, birches, cedars, dogwoods, and oaks, amongst others.
We know that this can all seem overwhelming and it’s hard to know where to start. Let us help make that a little bit easier by starting with one of our garden kits, designed to fill a 12 square foot area with beautiful pollinator-friendly plants. As always, we are here to help with any of your native plant questions.