Autumn Planting

Check local garden nurseries for great deals this fall

Anyone who spent this long, hot summer dragging a hose around in an effort to keep the garden alive will be as grateful as I was for the real rainfall we just had. Finally! One more clueless weather forecaster wittering blithely on about lovely, sunny days without a mention of the parched landscape and I was dangerously close to doing an Elvis and shooting the television. (Water pistol, in my case.)

My vegetable garden is in decent shape, thanks to hours and hours of watering, but the flowerbeds are a sorry sight, and many shrubs have dropped half their leaves in distress. Luckily, the PeeGee hydrangeas seem impervious to whatever Mother Nature dishes up, surviving last year’s floods and this year’s drought with equal aplomb. I love how their white and pale green flowers always look fresh and spring-like at this time of year. Other survivors are coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, and a surprisingly tough, old-fashioned impatiens balfourii that I found growing here when we moved in. It’s from the Himalayas, I discovered. It likes the shade, gets about 30 inches tall, and has delicate pink and white blossoms that remind me of lady’s slipper orchids. It’s related to jewel weed — and if you’d like a few seeds, let me know and I’ll send you some.

Impatiens balfouriiImpatiens balfourii grows like a weed, looks (a little) like an orchid

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Autumn is a good time to plant and a good time to shop for plants, too — many nurseries have sales after Labor Day and you can get terrific bargains. Last autumn, I nabbed a four-foot-tall Burkwood viburnum from Phantom Gardener in Rhinebeck for just $8, reduced from $30-something. It looked a little pathetic when I planted it, but bloomed this spring and grew well all season. (I make sure to water my new plantings.)

Among my favorite suppliers are these:
Catskill Native Nursery in Kerhonkson: Here you’ll find unusual plants that are native to the U.S. and thrive in the Hudson Valley, including those that attract butterflies, or tolerate difficult conditions like dry shade.

Victoria Gardens in Rosendale: The nursery is perched on a ledge of bedrock embedded with fossils of sea creatures. Trees, shrubs, and perennials that like similar conditions are grouped together, and there’s also a gift shop with affordable, garden-related things.

Phantom Gardener in Rhinebeck: Lots of pots, statuary, garden supplies and books in addition to a wide choice of trees, shrubs, and plants.

Adams Fairacre Farms in Kingston, Poughkeepsie, and Newburgh: There are deals all through the growing season, the nursery attendants know their stock, and the two-year guarantee makes buying a tree here practically idiot-proof.

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