I know, I know – you’re saying – really, Sheri? With the gardening? It’s November – can’t I just be DONE already?


front garden

By this time of year most of us (especially in the Northeast – ESPECIALLY in light of recent weather-related events) are winding things down in the garden. Outdoor chores are limited to raking leaves, covering up the patio furniture and hanging an autumnal wreath on the door (crafted, perhaps, with your preserved leaves?).

You probably wouldn’t think of planting a perennial garden in the fall, but it’s actually the ideal time – especially if you’re planning a new bed.  Perennials planted in the fall have a real advantage over those planted in the spring and summer. In the warm-weather months, new plants have to contend with long hot days, and muggy, humid weather (ideal conditions for fungus, mildew and infestation). If these new plants are spring or summer bloomers, they have the dual task of producing flowers while establishing root systems. All this, while coping with the transplant shock that newly installed plants contend with.

scotch broom



But perennials planted in the fall have an edge. The weather is cooler and drier (making for more pleasant gardening too!). And as blooms are mostly finished by this time of year, the only job  plants have to do is establish strong root systems – which they have the rest of fall and all of winter to accomplish. Come springtime, they are firmly rooted and ready to go. Finally, nurseries are less crowded and usually full of great, end-of-season deals. You can experiment with new plants that you’ve been eyeing all summer, or fill in with more of the varieties already existing in your garden.

gooseneck loosestrife

yarrow and catmint

A few notes – most plants are done blooming by the end of the summer, so many of the plants that you’ll find at the nursery will bear little resemblance to what they look like at their peak. Before you hit the nurseries, take a look at plant photos in books, catalogues and on-line, so you’ll have some idea of what the plants you see will look like next season. Although not very attractive (and maybe even a little sad looking), be assured that these plants are still viable, and will happily settle in to your garden over the winter.



Which leads to the last chore in the perennial garden in fall – winter preparation. Prepare your soil according to the needs of your particular site, and be sure to finish with a 1-3” layer of mulch. This will regulate the temperature of the soil in your garden and prevent the heaving of plants out of the ground during the typical freeze/thaw cycles gardens can experience over the winter months (for more on winter prep, you can read this article I recently wrote for Bonbon Break).

And while you’re at it, consider planting some spring-blooming bulbs – there are varieties that will bloom as early as February and March, providing a welcome burst of color during those dreary, end-of-winter months.




So what do you think? Would you consider getting out there and planting at this time of year? Or are you more inclined to shut it down and wait till spring?


  1. Karen on November 12, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    Love your photos! Are they from your garden? This was my first year in my new house, so I was interested to see what would come up. i found a number of plants in weird places and had plans to plant, and also relocate some plants this fall, but I don’t think I will get to it. I’d like to plant some bulbs, too. Maybe i will make it part of my procrastination repetoire. Today, instead of writing my paper, I made granola, bought jasmine soap and one jalapeno pepper, and went to Home Depot instead of writing my paper. No reason I can”t add planting to the routine.

    • sherisilver on November 12, 2012 at 8:47 pm

      Thank you! And yes they are! Feel free to ask me any questions you have – you know, while you’re “procrastinating”! 🙂

  2. Elisabeth on November 13, 2012 at 8:03 am

    When I deadhead, I make sure to squish the Poppy pods in places I’d like to see them. That’s about all my efforts.

    • sherisilver on November 13, 2012 at 12:33 pm

      Does that actually work for you? I’ve never had much luck with re-seeding poppies………

  3. Marti on November 17, 2012 at 9:16 am

    Whaow gorgeous! If I had a garden I would def. follow your advice.

    • sherisilver on November 17, 2012 at 4:46 pm

      Thank you so much!! One day…. 🙂

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