Getting Your Garden Ready for Winter

on Thursday, 31 October 2019.

Leave the Leaves!

leaves 20163145791The nights are getting down below freezing. Fall color has come and gone and leaves are falling fast. Our summer songbirds have been replaced by winter residents like dark-eyed juncos, golden-crowned sparrows, and hermit thrushes. The signs are inescapable – it’s time to start transitioning our gardens into winter mode. 

 

Even though the sounds of leaf blowers are everywhere, there are some really powerful and compelling reasons to leave those leaves right in your garden. This fall, instead of bagging your fallen leaves and putting them out on the curb, consider raking them on top of your garden beds instead. Why?

  • Creating a leaf much for your garden beds is the equivalent of tucking your plants in with a nice warm blanket. Mulched leaves help insulate plant roots against extreme cold snaps and are a great way to help insulate your perennials over the winter.
  • Fallen leaves – and the dead stalks from this summer’s perennials - provide shelter for overwintering beneficial insects and pollinators (native bees, butterflies, etc.). These beneficials will more than repay you next year by helping to control any garden pests that might try to get established. Once cold weather has passed, you can prune back your perennials to get them ready for their spring growth.
  • Your leaf mulch will break down within a few months; creating a free source of nutrients for your plants. Leaving the leaves is also a really simple way to introduce more organic material into your soil; something that’s beneficial to all soil types.

Finally, if you absolutely cannot stand to have leaves on your garden beds, this is a great time to start a compost pile. Add green trimmings, vegetable scraps, manure, and turn a few times over the winter and – voila! – you’ll have fresh rich compost ready for next spring’s growing season!

Fall Berries are for the Birds!

on Thursday, 10 October 2019.

Cedar waxwing

Not only do fall and winter berries add a splash of color to your yard during our gray Oregon winters, but they're also an important food source for many of our migrating and wintering songbirds - like robins, cedar waxwings (left), varied and hermit thrushes, spotted towhees, and Townsend's solitaires. Many berries are rich in fats, and help tide the birds through the cold weather when insect populations ( a favorite bird food!) decline. 

 

Kinnikinick

Native Plants:

Fall-fruiting native plants are at the top of the "favorites" list for our local birds - both as great food sources and for the shelter they provide. Natives also tend to be sturdy and low-maintenance; making them a welcome addition for most landscapes. Some of our favorites for the Rogue Valley and surrounding areas include: Arctostaphylos, Mahonia, Myrica, Rhamnus, Rosa, Symphoricarpos, and Vaccinium ovatum (evergreen huckleberry). 

 

Non-Native Plants: 

Autumn oliveThere are also a number of hardy non-native shrubs and that are great winter food sources for  birds, and these plants also provide some nice visual interest for our fall and winter gardens. They include a number of plants already popular with local gardeners: Aronia, Autumn Olive (photo to left), Carnelian Cherry, Crabapple, Dogwood, Hawthorn, Holly, and Virginia Creeper.

Fall is a great time of year to add to your wildlife-friendly garden. The warm soil and cool air help your new plants get off to a great start - with roots having a chance to get established and grow out over the winter. And the overwintering birds in your yard will thank you! 

Ten Great Shade Trees for Fall Color

on Friday, 27 September 2019. Posted in Landscape contractor

These Trees Will Brighten Up Your Fall Yard

"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now." - Chinese Proverb

This is especially true if you're interested in finding a shade tree that also provides good fall color. The trees here at Shooting Star are just beginning to turn, so you can wander the nursery to soak up the fall color and make your selections. Here are ten of our favorite "fall color" trees to get you started - arranged in size from small to mid-sized to large. 

 

 Small Trees (under 30'):

Autumn brillianceAutumn Brilliance Serviceberry (20' x 15') - Serviceberries offer three-season interest in the garden: clouds of white flowers in the spring, blue-purple berries in the summer, and bright red leaves in the fall. 

Paperbark Maple (25' x 20') - Delicate-looking compound leaves turn red in the fall, shaggy exfoliating bark provides winter interest. A great maple selection for smaller spaces!

Vanessa Parrotia (28' x 14') - A small, upright tree that turns warm shades of orange and red. Great choice for small yards or as a street tree.

 

Medium-sized Trees (30-40'):

Native Flame Hornbeam (30' x 20') -  This heat-tolerant eastern native turns orange-red to bright red in fall, and the canopy has a nice oval shape.

Chinese Pistache

Chinese Pistache (30' x 30') - Chinese Pistache does beautifully in our hot, dry summers and turns a brilliant orange-red in fall.

 

Red Rage Tupelo (35' x 20') - Turns a glossy, copper-red - truly stunning. Tupelos are also tolerant of poorly drained soils.

 

Large Trees (40'+):

Autumn Purple Ash (45' x 40') -  Colors can vary each year from a yellow-orange to a deep purple. While the color can be changeable, the effect is always lovely.

Sun Valley Maple (40' x 35') -  A bright red seedless variety of Maple. 

Maple fall colorOctober Glory Maple (40' x 35') - The name says it all! This is the latest variety of maple to color up in fall, and can really help stretch out the fall display in your yard. Foliage ranges from deep red to red-purple.

Autumn Blaze Maple (50' x 40') - If you're in the market for a big, colorful shade tree, this is the one for you! Turns a brilliant shade of orange-red, and the color is fairly long-lasting. As an extra bonus, Autumn Blaze tends to be more drought tolerant than other maples.