Cleaning Up the Garden in the Fall

dead-plants-fall-800With the first frosts of fall, my garden turns from a lovely shade of green to a dirty brown with withered sticks and leaves.  While my first inclination is to clean up everything, there may be seeds that you can collect or even save for the birds.

Here’s a good video which talks about some of your options.


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Ground Covers

There’s a long section of garden which needs a ground cover that will do well on a slope, is a good pollinator plant and even better – a host plant. It is near an irrigation line, so it can’t grow too tall and while it would be nice if it’s a good grower, I don’t want one that is invasive or takes a lot of maintenance.
————————— is a website which sells lots of ground cover seeds. Here is their response to an email I sent.

“The more ornamental ground covers, like sedums, creeping thymes, and aubrieta, are all very tiny seeds and slow to establish, so we never suggest starting them directly on a slope. The seeds wash away or even blow away if they dry out. So, if you’re interested in the ornamental groundcovers, you might consider starting the seeds in flats and then plugging out small plants in the latter part of spring. I think you would have much more success with that method. Also, many of the ground covers are hybridized, and unfortunately, when plants are hybridized they often breed the size, the flower color, bloom time, etc, but the pollinator attraction factor is often missed.

The most pollinator attractive plants are the wildlfowers, the clovers, and others that have not been hybridized. I have not grown all of the ground covers myself, but what I have grown, the thymes seem to be the most pollinator attractive.

Miniclover is a seed that can be planted on a slope – and the reason is that it establishes much faster than the ornamentals. I have Miniclover, and it is buzzing with activity all spring, summer and into the fall. It may get over 6 inches but not by much – I’m able to mow mine a few times during the growing season, and it stays more at about 3 – 4 inches.

Here’s a list of possible trials.

  • Ajuga – MAF – hummers like this. I have had this die out on me after a few years.
  • Ajuga – Chocolate Chip – shade _
  • ‘Blue Star Creeper’
  • Creeping Phlox – 1
  • Creeping Thyme (Thymus Serpyllum Mother of Thyme) –
  • Creeping Thyme (Thymus Serpyllum Magic Carpet –
  • Creeping Jenny – too aggressive?
  • Mazus reptans ‘Purple’
  • Potentilla – Steppables – Potentilla Neumanianna – Cinquefoil
  • Outside – sells seeds
  • Pussy Toes Red – Antennaria Dioica Rubra –
  • Rock Cress Cascading (Aubrieta Hybrida Superbissima Cascade Mix) –
  • Sedum Sedum (Spurium Coccineum) Dragons Blood –
  • Sedum sarmentosum – recommended by MAF.
  • Sedum kamtschaticum var. ellacombeanum – I have this around the pond
  • Sedum – Dragon’s Blood Stonecrop – grows fast
  • Stepables – has 99 different plants.
  • Thymus serpyllum – Mother of Thyme
  • Red Creeping thyme –
  • Stepables – Elfin thyme
  • Creeping Phlox – phlox subulata
  • Veronica Liwanensis – 1

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Hummingbird Feeders for Butterflies and Bees

butterflies-bees-hummingbird-feederOne of my late season observations was that my hummingbird feeders were attracting painted lady butterflies and bees. Since the hummingbirds were gone, I took off the top of one of my feeders and put in some plastic landing pads.

As you can see above, butterflies and bees are both attracted to this feeder. I am still using the 1 to 4 ratio of sugar to water. The bees will drink the liquid within an hour.

As you can see in the video below, it does get rather busy, but the bees paid no attention to me and were not aggressive at all.


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Monarch Tagging Party

monarch-dsc04726Here’s your chance to get up close and personal with Monarch butterflies.

Tom Terrific is hosting a tagging party where you will learn how to tag a Monarch and send it off on it’s trip to Mexico.

This party is mainly for kids, but adults are welcome also.

Date – Sunday – October 1st

Time – 1 – 4 p.m.

Place: 9016 Robyn Rd. 63126
You can park at the school.
Come around to the back yard.

Below is some more information on tagging the Monarchs.

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Soils Program

This is a topic that might interest you.
It’s free, but these programs do fill up, so I would register ASAP.


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Asters in the Fall

Asters are great fall plants that will be blooming when many plants are done.
The native version is the New England Aster and at times it’s mobbed by all sorts of butterflies in the fall. The problem is that in the home garden, it has a tendency to grow VERY large and flops over, takes up a lot of space and covers other plants. While you can cut it back a couple of times during the season, it’s more work than I care for.
A second option are the new aster cultivars. They are available right now (September 12th) in the local nurseries.

Here are the ones I have bought recently. I’m going to plant them soon and see how they do next year. The largest version is “Believer” from Lowes.  I’ve had as many as ten Painted Lady butterflies nectaring at one time on these plants. These new cultivars seem to be good nectar sources and still draw in the pollinators.

Here are the seven varieties I have bought so far. Left to right and bottom to top.

  1. Millstadt – Sappington Gardens
  2. Dragon Improved – Yoder
  3. Millstadt – Sappington Gardens
  4. Days aster – Blue Yoder – Wiethops
  5. Hazy Aster – Dark Pink – Yoder – Wiethops
  6. Magic Aster Purple – Yoder – Wiethops
  7. Believer – Lowes – this seems to get the most butterflies. It is also the nicest in size, but that might change over the years.

Here are some of the butterflies that love asters.



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Seeds and Cuttings Class – Sept. 16th


Tom is doing a free class on collecting seeds and making cuttings to help increase your plant population in 2018.

No need to signup – just park at the school across the street.

Date: Saturday – September 16th
Time: 10 a.m.
Place: 9016 Robyn Rd – Crestwood, MO 63126


  • Paper lunch bags for seeds.
  • Scissors or pruners.
  • Small pots, clear plastic bags and potting mix for cuttings.


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