With the summer coming to a close, we yearn for warm colors and rich textures around the home. Refresh your outdoors too! Update your annual beds, container gardens or window boxes with the palette of autumn. Choose from a great selection of cold-tolerant mums, cabbage, kale, grasses and premium annuals to take you through the fall season.
It happens every year, people from towns near and far make their spring pilgrimage to Mahoney’s. They come filled with anticipation of new perennials, lush lawns, and flowering shrubs. Simply put, it’s spring, and they want to plant something. No question of course, that spring is a great time to plant, but what many people don’t realize is that fall is not only an equally good time to plant, in many ways it’s better.
To understand why, it’s good to remember that plants do not think like people. While we lament the end of summer, plants – especially newly planted plants – find the cooler days far less stressful. We may dig in our closets for a sweater, but for plants the soil feels warm, which boosts root growth. And while fall rains seem gloomy to us, plants much prefer it to the hot dry summer. And this is true for a whole host of plants: trees, shrubs, perennials, roses, ornamental grasses and even your lawn. Practically anything planted now will have extra time to establish, so when it’s time to grow and flower next year, it will give you a great show at your house, not at the garden center.
Fact is, if the ground isn’t frozen and you can still dig the hole, you can still plant. Planting in September and October however allows that much more time for plants to become established, so sooner is better.
There are other reasons fall is a great time for planting. Unlike a lot of garden centers that wind down for the year, Mahoney’s brings in lots of fresh new plants every fall, especially shrubs. Check out our new shipments arriving daily. Planting them now will allow you to enjoy the foliage throughout all seasons, including color changes this fall.
Fall is also the unofficial “hide your neighbor” season. Why, we’re not sure, but a lot of people plant hedges in the fall. We’ll have fresh arborvitae, boxwood and other hedging evergreens as well as privet, hydrangeas, ninebark, spirea, weigela and many more deciduous shrubs. (Social note: for neighbors that need immediate hiding, we carry large and fast growing hedge shrubs. The ‘Green Giant’ arborvitae is especially popular)
Also very popular in the fall are miniature evergreens for urns, containers and window boxes. They add a festive touch for the holidays, and with a little protective care they will survive in a container through the winter. If you want to be greeted with tulips, daffodils and other flowers next spring, you have to plant the bulbs in fall.
Perennials especially benefit from the extra time in the ground before next spring. We bring in a lot of fresh perennials in the fall – especially the fall blooming varieties. We also have a wide selection of ornamental grasses – great for landscapes or containers.
Speaking of grasses, fall is the very best time to pay attention to your lawn. Not only do most lawns need a serious pick-me-up after the summer heat and dry spells, the warm fall soil encourages quick germination and cool air temperatures reduce stress.
With the lack of rain this season, our gardens (especially newly-planted shrubs, trees and perennials) can be at risk without proper watering. Here’s what you need to know:
When we talk about the importance of newly planted trees and shrubs becoming “established” in the garden, we are referring to the development of a healthy root system. This root system is the basis for the plant’s top growth and long term health. And water is the key ingredient in developing that root system. For the first two years of its life in your garden, the tree and its roots are particularly sensitive to water deficits. As the tree matures, its roots reach deeper into the ground and are able to tap water sources there.
New shrubs and trees will require supplemental watering throughout the first growing season, right up to the onset of winter, and again in the second growing season. Water needs to be applied in the form of a gentle and deep soaking, down to the bottom and around the entire circumference of the root ball. Importantly, plants will require this watering at least once a week, and oftentimes twice a week in order to prevent any part of the root system from drying out.
How much water a plant needs depends on its size. A small shrub will need 2-3 gallons of water each time it is watered. A larger shrub, 3-5 gallons. A small tree will need 5-8 gallons. Mid-sized and larger trees, correspondingly more.
Even as night time temperatures cool and the grass is moist with dew in the morning, it is important to keep up your program of supplemental watering. Scientific data indicates that plants need one inch of rainfall per week throughout their lifetime. While we can hope for a soaking rain every week, it is not something we can rely on, so it falls to us to be good stewards of our landscapes.
Everyone loves the beautiful blue mophead hydrangeas – but maybe it’s time to expand your hydrangea horizons. Panicle hydrangeas have wonderfully large, lush pyramidal flowers that provide color and texture for an amazingly long period of time.
Panicle hydrangeas are super easy, reliable, and very hardy. You will be guaranteed flowers each and every summer because the flower buds are formed in late spring on new growth, thereby avoiding the frosts that can damage buds. They adapt to a variety of light levels, from full sun to partial shade and even the shade of a north facing garden.
Panicle hydrangeas offer a very long season of bloom beginning in June and lasting until winter sets in. Say goodbye to that feeling that there is nothing in bloom in the late summer and fall! The cone-shaped flowers are often 12” tall and sometimes taller. Another lovely feature of these hydrangeas is the flower’s ability to subtly change color over its many months of bloom. What begins as a lovely creamy white flower will morph into varying shades of pink, and, with some varieties, even deep pink-red by season’s end. They are shallow-rooted plants that benefit from a 2-3″ layer of compost or mulch. Planted in healthy, organic-rich soil, they require no fertilizer to produce lots of blooms.
They flower true to color so there is no need for soil additives. Pruning is not necessary, especially if you choose a variety whose size is appropriate to your needs. In time, if you wish to contain the plant’s size, you can prune in late winter or very early spring. Come explore the world of panicle hydrangeas. Here are some of our favorite varieties:
Considered one of the smaller paniculatas, ‘Bobo’ grows 3’ tall and 3-4’ wide. But don’t be fooled by its diminutive stature. ‘Bobo’ in full bloom is a spectacular sight. This hydrangea will be absolutely engulfed in large, bright white flowers. It can be hard to see the leaves for all its flowers! The flowers are held upright on strong stems, and continue to grow and lengthen as they bloom. By season’s end, the flowers take on a lovely soft shade of pink.
This hydrangea is truly beautiful in a border or foundation planting. Its flowers open a pure white, gradually turn pink, and finish the season a rich pomegranate-red color. The 12-16” flowers are held on thick, sturdy stems. ‘Fire Light’ grows 5-6’ tall.
When you see the creamy lime-green flower panicles begin to open, you will understand how ‘Limelight’ got its name. The lime green flowers slowly transform into a soft, antique rose pink over a long season of bloom. The shrub is upright in form and reaches a height of 7-8’. It makes a beautiful specimen plant in the border, and a hedge of ‘Limelight’ lining a driveway is a sight to behold.
As the name suggests, this is a compact version of ‘Limelight’. It has the same mid-summer creamy limegreen flowers on a shrub that grows 3-5’ tall.
This is the earliest blooming of the panicle hydrangeas, and that is saying something! What begins as a lovely creamy white flower morphs into shades of pink – first soft pink, then medium pink, ending the season in tones of pink-red. Another interesting feature of this panicle hydrangea is its stem color. Red toned stems of summer become mahogany colored in winter, adding a rich texture to the landscape. ‘Quick Fire’ will reach 6-7’ in height.
If your landscape can’t accommodate the size of ‘Quick Fire’ but you still want to enjoy its beauty, ‘Little Quick Fire’ is for you. Growing just 3-5’ tall, it has the same early bloom time, exquisite flowers, and great stem color. It’s all there, just in a smaller package.
The flowers of this variety begin their colorful journey as pale green before changing to luscious creamy white and then darkening through all stages of pink into rosy-red. New blooms emerge as older blooms change color, giving the plant a multicolored effect. Growing 6-7’ feet tall, the branches will gently arch under the weight of its flowers.
Growing 4-5’ tall and 3-4’ wide, this compact plant is similar to ‘Vanilla Strawberry’. The flowers are numerous and have the same multicolored effect. It brings a sense of excitement to the smaller landscape.
The flowers of this new introduction produce an amazing multi-color display. Its dense panicles of creamy white blossoms blush pink from the base upward and gradually darken to rich raspberry pink. The deep green foliage provides a perfect backdrop for this exuberant floral display. Sturdy, upright stems will grow to a height of 6-8’.