Are you a spring shopper or a summer shopper, from the Whistling Gardener

Late August is a telltale time for revealing what kind of shopping habits gardeners have.
Purple Mums! Photo courtesy of Sunnyside Nursery.

This weekly column is being reproduced with the permission of Steve Smith, The Whistling Gardener, and owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville.

Late August is a telltale time for revealing what kind of shopping habits gardeners have.

If they do most if not all of their shopping and planting in April and May then it will quickly become obvious that their yards are fizzling out no matter how much Miracle-Gro they are using.

If on the other hand they continue to shop into June and July and plant more tropicals that love the heat and peak in August and September then it will again be evident by the lush opulence of their gardens.

What kind of shopper are you?

I understand that the natural tendency is to get all our plants in as few trips as possible, get them planted and then just sit back and enjoy them.

The trouble of course with this game plan is that everything matures and poops out at the same time and then it all has to be redone or in many cases it just dries up and we try not to think about it until the next spring.

How sad is that? The thrill of gardening should last far longer than just a few months in summer and the way to make that happen is to spread out our plant purchases throughout the summer.

Even seasonal color planted in late August will continue to bloom up until frost which could easily be another three months from now.

There is good value in late summer plantings.

Because of the hectic nature of my business I often don’t get my beds planted until mid-June or even later and while the initial frustration of having to wait sometimes seems more than I can bear the reward is always the grandeur I get to enjoy later in the year when everyone else’s beds are done.

In a perfect world I would be doing both spring and summer plantings so that there was always something looking its best. If there is any take home message from this missal it would be to keep planting something every month, not just spring and summer.

As the owner of a garden center, my goal is to make you neither a spring nor summer shopper but rather a year ‘round shopper!

Fall is for planting: While summer in the northwest continues on into the month of September fall is a fabulous time to get back into the garden and work some magic.

Vacations are over, the kids are back in school and life returns to a predictable pattern and it is the perfect time to get fired up again about gardening.

There are many fall crops both edible and ornamental that can be planted now along with resurrecting the lawn and in the next couple of weeks I will regale you with everything you need to know to make that happen.

One more week of August and then we will be back into our fall class schedule with lots of opportunities to learn all about things we can do in our gardens in the fall.

Stay tuned and keep watering and if you need a sneak peek into our fall program then go to our website at and click on the classes and events page for all the details. I get excited just thinking about it.

Steve Smith is owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached online at


Our featured sponsor

Google ad