Achieving Happiness in Your Garden: The Seventeenth Secret

A new season of gardening is upon us. 


And with fall comes another secret to achieving happiness in your garden.  This secret is one that people have been told time and again, but they don't always believe it.

I'm not sure why they don't believe this secret.  I suspect part of the reason is that many people think of gardening as something that begins in the spring and ends in the fall, more precisely on or about the first day of fall or when they get the first frost of the season.  After that, it is over for them, except for the raking of leaves which seems more like drudgery to them than gardening.

Or perhaps they are so tired of gardening after fighting the spring rains and the summer drought that what they really want to do now is hunker down inside and forget the garden until next spring.  Let the frost kill it all off and let the snow hide it, they think. They'll deal with it in the spring after a long winter of rest.

Oh what a tragic mistake that would be.  What an opportunity wasted. What a season lost. 

By now you've probably already guessed that the seventeenth secret for achieving happiness in your garden is "Plant for the long-term in the fall".

Plant for the long-term in the fall. 

Now is the time to plant most trees, shrubs, even perennials.  They'll appreciate the cooler temperatures, the hopefully more frequent rains, and use the time until the ground freezes to grow roots and establish themselves. By the time spring comes, they are all settled in and ready to grow.

Now is the time to plant bulbs for spring flowers, too. They need to go through the cool of a winter to bloom in the spring.

Now is the time to prepare the ground for that vegetable garden you promised you'd start next spring.  If you prepare that raised bed or other planting area this fall, you'll be all set for planting in it early spring.  You won't have to dance around the spring rains to prepare the ground to plant your peas in March.  You'll be all set.

Plant for the long-term in the fall. That's the seventeenth secret to achieving happiness in your garden.  Go ahead. Do it.   You'll "fall" in love with gardening all over again. You'll be so happy next spring when you see how well those fall planted trees, shrubs, perennials and bulbs grow in your garden.


  1. This is a very good *secret*, Carol. Depending on where one lives, fall is the very best time to plant hardy trees, shrubs and perennials. For us, the cooler temperatures and more moist days make gardening a pleasure.


  2. Heidi/ IN Woodland GardenerTue Sep 18, 07:44:00 AM 2012

    Wonderful if we could just get everyone to have those wonderful "Plant Sale/Swaps" in the fall instead of in the spring.

  3. You do need to know when fall occurs in your climate. I've learned that fall starts in mid-August here. The nice weather usually ends in mid-October, so if I want plants to have a month of nice weather to get settled, I should be done planting shrubs, trees and perennials by mid-September. Bulbs can be planted later, because they are only affected by soil temperature.

  4. Words of wisdom. Fall is the best time for planting many perennials, shrubs and trees. I am enjoying the fall garden. Well, it is not yet technically fall but the light levels and the night temperatures tell the tale.

  5. A wise secret I totally endorse. We must all plant the things that matter in a garden in fall. Thank you for saying so.~~Dee

  6. Oh, yes, I love fall for working in the garden!

  7. Oh how I agree with you. The climate in Aberdeen in Spring, Summer and Autumn can often give us four seasons in the one day. Even in Winter when some days the temperature can be 48/52f I enjoy nothing more than getting outdoors even if it is just to do a little tidying up. (keep planting, fantastic!!)

  8. So true that many forget this secret. It is good to follow this rule here where our spring can go from too wet to plant to too hot to survive in a flash.

  9. I continue to garden until it's too cold for me to be out there!

  10. Hear, hear! There is some risk of losing new plants, but assuming they make it through the winter they will be so much more substantial the following year.

  11. I so agree with you. I think of September as January for the garden. A time to regenerate and edit!

  12. That's no secret here on my corner of Katy! I love to plant in the fall ... it's a wonderful time to be outside here.

  13. I don't know why it is so easy to forget that fall is a wonderful planting season. Weeds seem to pull out so much more easily, it's cooler and less buggy, and the plants are really happy to settle in with more (hopefully) rain. Like last night. three and a half inches.


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