Late summer and early fall is a good time to plant bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, crocus and hyacinth. -Image: The Family Tree Inc.

Burnett: An ideal time for planting fall bulbs

With cooler weather on the way, plants and grass can thrive in the fall

As we march toward fall in the Okanagan we can expect a reprieve from the intense heat and the stifling smoke we’ve endured through the better part of summer. Unlike some other areas of Canada where frost can be expected in September, we rarely see night temperatures drop below freezing till the end of October and sometimes it stays quite balmy well into November. This means we can be actively enjoying our gardens for possibly another two months or more. Those baskets and tubs which typically look worse for the wear at this time of year due to the heat and often a waning fertilizer program, can easily be resurrected with the help of cooler temperatures and a little extra care in trimming back and feeding. Most annuals respond quite nicely to this and it’s well worth the time and effort to get a couple of months extra enjoyment.

We are now approaching a great time of year to plant, as the fall is when most root expansion takes place, so if you have been putting off doing that small project or perhaps an entire landscaping you can warm up the shovel and take advantage of some of the season end specials found at most garden centres. The garden centres will be getting in their stock of fall bulbs very soon now. Tulips, daffodils, crocus, hyacinths and several species of smaller bulbs can be planted as soon as you can get your hands on them.

Contrary to what many people, even those in the industry think, bulbs can and should get into the ground as soon as possible. You may hear along the way that this should wait until the temperatures cool down because if planted too soon the bulbs may begin to sprout prematurely. This is not true. I often respond to this thinking with the question; what do the bulbs already in our gardens do? Whether a bulb is in the ground already or is freshly planted, it needs the cooling period of winter to trigger its bloom. In fact, it can be said if a bulb is kept out of the ground for too long, say into the next year it will surely loose some of its vitality and will not bloom nearly as well come spring.

September is also a great time of year to either plant a new lawn or restore an old one. The key to having a sustainable lawn with can do well without abusing water use is the preparation of the soil base. Contrary to common thinking the soil beneath turf should be high in sand content. BCLNA with is the organization many of us in the industry belong to, suggests a 70 percent sand content which may surprise you however this blend reduces compaction which affords more air to the root zone and in fact holds more moisture. Clay does just the opposite.

A reminder of an invitation to join me on my next trip to the UK for a Spotlight on London tour including a day long visit to the Chelsea Flower Show and taking in the magic of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and the beautiful Savill Gardens. We leave for this fabulous trip on May 16, 2018, however because of the demand for Chelsea tickets you need to book soon. Contact Gail Fritsen at Marlin Travel- 250-868-2540.

Listen to Don Burnett and Ken Salvail every Saturday Morning from 8 to 10 a.m. presenting the Garden Show on AM 1150, now in its 34th year.