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Master Your Garden By Barbara Kozlowski, Master Gardener

The beauty of September –  the leaves slowly changing color, crops ripening in the fields, cooler nights but still warm sunshiny days and the crisp autumn smell in the air. I love this time of the year with all the good things it brings. It is also a little sad, as the hummingbirds have finally left and parts of the garden are beyond their peak performance stage. The fall season is just beginning with a whole new outlook and time to prepare for the much cooler weather pattern – maybe yes and maybe no.

With cooler days and nights, it’s time to retrieve your indoor plants from their outdoor location and prepare to return to their fall and winter locations in your home. Before you bring in these plants, thoroughly spray the soil area to kill any insect pests that may have set up housekeeping in the soil or on the plant itself. You can also wash the foliage with a warm soapy solution to debug them. Your indoor plants should be brought back inside as soon as possible and no later than the beginning of October. Indoor plants may also go into a hibernation period if left outside too long.

With the cooler weather and heavy dew we seem to experience, your lawn will start a new growing pattern. Grass is a cool-weather crop, and after the heat and almost drought-like conditions of this past summer season, it is raring to grow. I believe my grass was growing while I was cutting it. The bright green of new growing grass is a pleasant contrast to the changing leaves. This is evident looking at our ski slopes and the trees growing in between.

Now is the time to pick up new perennials at garden centers and nurseries. They still have plenty of time to become established before the snow flies. You can also divide any existing perennials in your garden to share with friends or place in a different area of one of your existing or new gardens. The cooler weather helps them to become established and will not stress them as during the summer heat.

I also like to pick up a few new field mums to add additional color to an existing garden and look forward to them returning the following year. If you decide to plant mums in your garden, mark their location and watch for them to return next summer for fall color.

A late summer and fall-blooming perennial I have placed in my garden is Autumn Joy Sedum. It starts with green foliage in the spring and the flowers begin as pale pink blooms and deepen in color as the fall season progresses. These flower stems dry beautifully and can be sprayed to any color if you should desire. I love the deep burgundy color when they are dry.

The cooler weather seems to stimulate the appetite for comfort foods. One of my favorites is squash or pumpkin soup. This is a hearty soup that’s easy to make from local, in-season produce.

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