Through most of the summer, gardens were under stress from the drought, which caused some plants to perish. In some cases, this was a follow-up to the stress caused by last December's cold, icy weather.
But, to look on the bright side, more plants survived than perished. While walking through the woodland this morning, I found common witch hazel in bloom. The Japanese witch hazel has good red foliage and many flower buds, which will open to maroon flowers in February and March. These shrubs received no supplementary water during the summer drought; neither did the viburnums, which gave us a good show of red berries earlier.The Delaware Valley White azaleas and Pieris, which received no irrigation, are apparently in good health and there are many racemes of flower buds on the Pieris. But they were planted many years ago with goodly supplements of peat moss in the soil.
Some plant deaths can be attributed to faulty planting techniques. A nearby institutional planting was completed last spring and I saw small azalea plants set in tiny holes in the red clay with just a small amount of peat moss poured into the planting holes. Those plants died early in the summer as the root balls dried out and the roots died.
Autumn rains revived parched lawns so they are green and growing - especially those fertilized in September. It's time to fertilize again so that roots can grow during periods when soil temperature is above 40 degrees this winter. Green is a good color for winter to contrast with brown color of fallen leaves.
With adequate soil, moisture bulb roots will be growing. Bulbs planted in previous years should be fertilized in autumn - if you remember where they are - and again when bulb leaves appear above ground. Recommended fertilizer is 10-10-10 or Bulb Booster.
Now is a good time to plant or transplant shrubs, trees, perennials, biennials, bulbs, fruit trees, and evergreens. We planted some garden balsam several years ago and have never needed to replant them as mature seeds dropped from the plants, lived over winter on the ground, and germinated the following spring.
Some other plants will grow as well. Lunaria, known also as Honesty and Money Plant, is biennial. Let it go to seed and new plants will appear where the seeds fall. If they grow in the wrong place, they're not difficult to eradicate or transplant. If you don't have them now, plant the seeds now.
Foxglove is another biennial that will self-sow. This is an excellent plant for wooded areas receiving light or dappled shade. Plants may be available now which will flower next spring.
Of course, every gardener knows about pansy plants. Set them out now for scattered flowers during winter and many flowers in spring to complement tulips and daffodils.
For a pleasant gardening evening, come to the Guilford Horticultural Society's meeting Monday night, Nov. 19, at 7:30. Speaker will be Tony Avent, landscape director of N.C. State Fairground. If you are not a member, why not join? Membership dues are nominal and help bring these good programs.
Want to become a Master Gardener? Applications are being accepted at the Guilford Agricultural Extension Office. Phone Karen Neill at 375-5876. In High Point, dial 884-3696.