Digging Deeper Vol. 15

Fall Is Best Time To Plant

Although most of the larger commercial garden centers tend to cut back on their landscape offerings this time of year and feature indoor foliage plants, fall and winter are actually the optimum seasons for new plantings and remodeling in the landscape.  This includes trees, shrubs, perennials and herbs.  By installing and moving plantings in the fall and winter, you allow more time for the development of healthy root systems prior to the oppressive heat and drought of summers here.

Fall planting is especially important for larger plantings like trees and shrubs, and Bill Head at Head-Lee Nursery says there are a number of quite colorful and durable native trees that are seldom used, but would make excellent choices for shade trees in the Southeast.  Two such specimens are a selection of our native Black Gum (Nyssa sylvatica ‘Wildfire’) and a cultivar of our White Ash (Fraxinus americana ‘Autumn Purple’). 

‘Wildfire’ Black Gum Features All-Season Color, Interest

Nyssa sylvatica ‘Wildfire’ offers continuous beauty in the landscape throughout the four seasons and makes an excellent choice for wildlife habitat gardens, since its small, black fruits are quite tasty to birds and other wildlife.  From vibrant red early spring foliage to deep green in summer and back to a spectacular fall color explosion of fiery scarlet., this stunning selection also sports a furrowed, silvery gray bark to catch one’s eye in winter after the leaves have fallen.

With a hardiness rating for Zones 4 through 9 and high marks for bacterial leafspot and general disease resistance, ‘Wildfire’ is a well-adapted and easy-to-grow shade tree for the Southeast.  Specimens grow 30-50 feet tall with a spread of 20-30 feet, and prefer full sun conditions. 

‘Autumn Purple’ Ash Needs Little Pruning

Fraxinus americana ‘Autumn Purple’  is prized for its striking deep red, maroon or purple fall foliage and has been offered in the nursery trade since the late 1950’s.  It is moderately drought resistant and requires little pruning, developing a distinct pyramidal shape when young and then converting to an oval shape when mature.  ‘Autumn Purple’ is adapted to a wide variety of well-drained soils, and while it prefers full sun, will tolerate partial shade.

This fast-growing shade tree (averaging 2 feet per year) often is one of the first to show its fall color and holds it longer than most of its competitors.  Bark is brownish-gray and smooth when young, eventually becoming rough and deeply furrowed for winter interest.  These specimens tend to be shallow-rooted, so don’t plant near patios, sidewalks or driveways.  It grows to a height and spread of 50 feet. 

Sustainable Agriculture Conference In Greenville Oct. 26-28

It’s still not too late to register for the 27th annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference, sponsored by the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA), which will be held Oct. 26-28, 2012, at the Hyatt Hotel in downtown Greenville, SC.  Visit the CFSA website, www.carolinafarmstewards.org. for membership and conference registration details.

CFSA “is a farmer-driven, membership-based, non-profit organization that helps people in the Carolinas grow and eat local, organic foods by advocating for fair farm and food policies, building the systems family farms need to thrive, and educating communities about local organic horticulture.  Our key programs are:  Education, Advocacy and Food Systems.

“Founded in 1979, we (CFSA) are the oldest and largest sustainable agriculture organization in the Southeast.  For over three decades, we have successfully united farmers, consumers and businesses to build a just, healthy food and farming future.”

By Guest Author Randy Peele

As has always been the case with my garden writings, I would like very much for all of you to interact with me in “Digging Deeper.”  Recommended topics, critiques, opinions, questions, etc. all are encouraged and welcomed, and I look forward to hearing from you by e-mail at email@headleenursery.com.