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Miri’s October Gardening Chores

You know those loooong lists of “What to Do in the Garden in Name-that-Month”?  I see them everywhere but I’d rather know what real gardeners are really doing – to help me home in on the really important tasks at hand.  So I asked Behnke’s shrub- and tree-buyer Miri Talabac what she’s really doing in her own garden.   Ready?

Alliums at the Chicago Botanic Garden

Plant Bulbs
Turns out this all-around plant geek is a “very neglectful gardener”, so this list of chores will be short and sweet.  She plans to plant as many blue bulbs as she can find but is kind of limited by the herds of deer who frequent her garden.  So, she’ll choose squills and alliums for that blue she loves, plus as many equally deer-proof daffodils as she can get in the ground.

Water
Plant geeks make sure their plants get enough water in October – especially if they’re fond of their shrubs and trees – and Miri’s no exception.  (Not sure how much rain has actually fallen?  Stick a rain gauge in your garden and say goodbye to guessing.)

Move Plants, Add New Plants
And fall is the perfect time to add new plants or move your existing ones around (and what gardener doesn’t fiddle with their design every year?)  As for shrubs and trees, Miri moves her deciduous plants now but waits until spring to move the evergreens.

Prune?
Miri knows not to prune anything now.

Bring Nonhardy Plants Indoors
Even the most neglectful gardener probably remembers to bring in their houseplants for the winter.  And Miri will be spraying hers first with horticultural oil and giving them a  good washing to make sure they don’t bring unwanted critters into the house.

Then after the first frost she’ll dig up her elephant ears and put them in a box in the basement for the winter.

Clean the Hummingbird Feeder
Finally, for this low-maintenance gardener (a nicer term than “neglectful”, right?) Miri says she’ll brings her hummingbird feeder indoors and gives it a good cleaning.

by Susan Harris

Photos by Susan Harris

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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