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My Northern Garden - Mary Schier
Sharing experiences and ideas about cold-climate gardening
Updated: 37 min 11 sec ago
We’ve had such a late fall this year that even though it is almost Halloween, we seem to have finally hit peak color where I live, just south of Minneapolis and St. Paul. While walking downtown today, I couldn’t help but notice the vibrant colors of the plantings at our beautiful Northfield Public Library. Bright red burning bush provided a colorful background for seedheads from coneflowers, fading roses and other plants. Near the steps, I spotted bright blue berries on on yellowing branches of Solomon’s seal.
The same kind of beauty can be seen around the ponds near our house. With slight fog and dimmed light, the grasses around the pond seem to be all texture, shades of gold, green and brown. Milkweed pods have burst open and are pushing their seed out into the world. In my home landscape, the ‘Matrona’ sedum are a deep russet color and their sturdy form contrasts with the nodding prairie dropseed, its shoots burdened with the weight of dozens of water droplets.
Yes, the weather is damp and chilly. But bundle up and take a walk. This may be the prettiest week of the fall.
The research is pretty conclusive that spending time outdoors is good for people. The fresh air, the sunlight, the chance to connect with our natural surroundings are all good for physical and mental health. But time outdoors is good for plants, too, as my mother demonstrated this summer.
For a couple of years, she’s had a succulent dish that we put together. She was inspired by one of the articles in Northern Gardener. The dish has struggled a bit, partly because the plants in it had different watering needs. This summer, she decided to move the dish out to her back patio. The patio faces south, is somewhat protected from wind by the house and a privacy fence, and, of course, is open to natural rain.
Here’s what the succulent dish looked like a couple of weeks ago just before she moved it back into the house.
Here’s the before shot: (You can see she lost a few plants, but the survivors are huge now.)
I had a similar experience a few years ago when I put a hoya plant outdoors for the summer. The plant, which had never bloomed before, suddenly was spouting cool, waxy blooms. Interestingly, once it started blooming, it now blooms every year, near the end of the summer. I still put the plant outdoors and it is very happy.
In a recent article on herbs, Nancy Leasman calls these plants “commuters” because they travel in and out of the house. Do you have any commuter plants?