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Fall Wrap Up

their roots established so
they can be ready to wake up
with our spring and manage
through our first hot summer.
No more discussion needed

Pat Appleby

It seems that the older I get
the faster time flies by but as
I got to thinking that through
I have to acknowledge that
time is moving the same as it
always has, it is my perception
of time that is changed. This
getting old is not for sissies.
This past weekend I had to
opportunity to spend a few
days working in my own
yard. It was great to get my
hands back in my own soil
but, yikes, it is overwhelming
with weeds and plants that
need attention.
But the
getting old comes into play
as I can’t seem to get as much
done as I think I should.
That is more than enough
feeling sorry for myself. I did
get to see a glorious show of
yellow larch on the slopes of
the Bitterroot and Sapphire
This will be the last Pat’s
Corner for this year so
hopefully I can remember all
the things to touch on. First,
TO PLANT. Yes I just
shouted that! As plants are
getting ready to sleep they
can spend more time getting

Fall is also the best time to
plant or divide peony plants.
Peonies need a well prepared
hole with extra compost or
well-rotted manure. If you
are dividing them be sure you
have several of the pink buds
on each root division. Be
sure to plant those pink buds
no more than 2” deep. Tamp
the soil around the roots as
you cover so that they don’t
settle too deep later. Planting
too deep is one of the main
reasons peonies don’t bloom.
If you are interested in
shrubs and trees that will
provide food for your or the
birds we have a great selection
for your yard. We have
strawberry, cherry shrubs
and trees, apple, plum, peach,
apricot, grapes, and more.
Planting fruit bushes now will
get you fruit next year.
If you have maple trees
and have seen the yellowing
of leaves that often happens in
our alkaline soil, fall is a good

time to apply Dr Iron. Even
though the tree is ‘sleeping’
there is still microbial activity
in the soil that makes the iron
available to the tree. In this
case the strategy of treating
before you see the problem
will be less stress on your tree.

While we are talking
about trees let’s cover the fall
checklist. All of the trees
(and shrubs) in your yard will
benefit from a good watering
before the ground freezes.
That could be next week or
next month or Christmas
here in Billings. I know your
irrigation system has been
turned off. If you can only do
a few plants choose the trees
and anything newly planted
this year. Even carrying a
few buckets of water out on
a warm winter day can make
the live or die difference if
we have a dry winter where
we don’t have snow on the
ground. Try to get the ground
watered 2’ deep out to the drip
line of the tree. If you have
young trees with dark gray or
brown bark like maples, ash,
lindens, or flowering crabs it
is a good idea to protect the
trunk from winter sunscald.
Apply a light colored plastic
or cloth tree wrap to the
trunk now and remove in the
spring when the leaves come
on. The idea is to reflect the
sun away from the dark tree
trunk. Protect your trees
from the weed eater!! Cutting
the bark with the weed eater
is a frequently seen problem
that can kill your tree. Most
newly planted trees don’t like
to compete with the grass for
water so cut the grass back
off the root ball and mulch so
the weed eater never gets near
the trunk. If you have not

fenced your trees or shrubs
to keep the deer off please
consider doing so. Deer will
eat anything if there is snow
and they can’t find food.

Fall is also the time when
we see seasonal needle drop
on evergreens. The amount
of needle drop depends on
tree species. For a healthy,
well watered pine tree it is
normal for the tree to drop
its third or fourth year
needles from the top to the
bottom of the tree. First and
second year growth should
not drop. MSU Extension
has a bulletin with photos
to check out: http://www.
If you have ornamental
grass in your landscape you
probably know the benefits
of leaving the grass stems
all winter and cutting them
back in early spring. The
stems will give you winter
interest, catch snow for the
root ball and leave seeds for
birds to enjoy. Karl Foerster
(Calamagrostis) grass is the
one that comes up first in the
spring, often mid to late April
if the weather warms up.
Fescue and Blue Oat grass
(Helictotrichon, and I still
cannot pronounce that) are
semi-evergreen and usually
only need a light cleaning.
Switch grass (Panicum)
Deschampsia grass usually
don’t appear until around late
May unless you plant them in
a warm southern exposure.
Here at the nursery we
are still showing specular
fall color with the barberries,
Gro Low sumac, aronia,

native shrubs and rose
bushes putting on the best
show. Even if you don’t
like barberries you have to
love the color. Besides the
virtues of fall planting keep
in mind that fall planning
with your landscaper could
help get your project started
in the spring and checking
out the fall color now will
help you know what to expect
from the plants. We still have
a great selection of trees,
shrubs and perennials to fill
every spot. We also have
Dr Iron, deer repellants and
tree trunk guards to help you
finish out your season. Thank
you to everyone who has
supported us this season. We
are planning now for spring
2018 so if you are looking
for something please give us
a call to see if we can find
it. We will be open Saturday,
October 28 as our last
Saturday and then Monday
– Friday 8am -5pm as long
as the weather holds. As a
thank you to our customers
we are having an end of the
season sale with all potted
plants at 20% off. Thank you
again for your kind words
and support of Pat’s Corner
this season. Pat


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