The ornamental grass in the corner of your garden has overgrown. The anise hyssop, its purple blossoms now turning a burnt orange, has eclipsed all else in the garden and the soil is due for a revamp. And then there are the spring bulbs to attend to.
Fall, Mike Saunier says, is for fixing.
“This is a good opportunity to fix mistakes or adjust things that look out of place in the garden or dwarf other things, or are not doing well in that spot,” said Mr. Saunier, owner of Heather Gardens in West Tisbury. “It’s fresh in your mind, you still have a recollection of how things perform in that spot and if you didn’t like it or it got too unruly, you can always adjust it now.”
While the summer gardens have wrapped up, there’s still plenty of activity to be had in the garden. For transplants, Mr. Saunier recommended having plenty of soil mass around the plant when digging it up.
“This time of year you don’t have as much pressure for watering because nights are getting cooler,” he said. “The plants respond much better if you’re transplanting this time of year and spring as opposed to summer.”
Mr. Saunier recommends sending soil samples to the University of Massachusetts Extension Program, which is fairly-priced and gives a thorough report.
While asters, grasses and bush clover are in full bloom across the Island, spring bulbs are on the horizon. Now is the time to plant daffodils (unappetizing to deer), tulips (a deer favorite), and a favorite of Mr. Saunier’s, anemones. It’s also garlic planting season, another bulb variety.
Weeding, edging and mulching is ripe for this season as well, and so is taking advantage of sales at local garden centers.
“Garden centers have a lot on sale right now because we’re looking to get rid of a lot of stuff and not carry it through the winter,” Mr. Saunier said.
As the first frost approaches, a healthy layer of organic fertilizer such as Pro Grow or Plant-tone is good and again when the forsythia bloom in the spring.
And for the Island’s treasured hydrangea, now is the time for trimming the bush back to a more manageable size. Fall is a preferred time to cut the hydrangea rather than spring. By cutting now, the hydrangeas can put on active growth for next year, Mr. Saunier said.
The long and leggy butterfly bushes need attention as well.
“I like cutting it back in the fall going into winter because the snow load on the bush can sometimes split things like that,” he said. An additional early spring cutback is also warranted.
After helping a customer find a yellow chrysanthemum variety called Ajania, Mr. Saunier’s son Eli wandered past. The father and son agreed: their favorite part of fall cleanup is uncovering the treasures of the past season.
“Fall garden cleanups are the best time to find tennis balls, footballs and soccer balls that got lost for the season,” Mr. Saunier said, giving his son a tug around the shoulder.
“Mostly soccer balls,” added Eli.