"Yikes, my Dogwood is Blooming and other Random Thoughts," by the Whistling Gardener

Mixing and Matching in containers is so much fun! Photo courtesy of Sunnyside Nursery.
Mixing and Matching in containers is so much fun! 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.

Normally at the first of each month I dispense my gardening wisdom in the form of a monthly To Do List, something I suspect many of you loathe because of the ensuing guilt you feel knowing that you won’t get half of it done.

Considering that last week I wrote about Putting the Garden to Bed there seems no point in beating the same information into your heads a second time.

You can access all of my past columns on my website at and of course you can always send me your questions which I will gladly respond to in a timely manner (and often in the evening under the influence of a glass of wine which can make for some colorful responses; don’t say I didn’t warn you).

Several customers have shared with me recently that some plants in their yards are all of a sudden blooming out of season and they want to know why and if they should be concerned.

It is not uncommon for plants to sport a few blooms in the fall and it is usually caused by the simple fact that fall weather and day lengths are similar to spring.

The reason we may be seeing more of this behavior this fall is probably due to the hotter summer weather and prolonged drought, which forced some plants into a pseudo state of dormancy. When the cooler temps and moisture returned they woke up again and thought it must be spring and sent out some blooms.

It is nothing to worry about and the worst thing that will happen is that your plants will have fewer blooms come spring.

Since this kind of reaction is often stress related it would be a nice gesture to give your blooming plants a treat of some organic fertilizer this fall along with a topdressing of mulch to hold in the moisture and keep the weeds down over the winter.

Of all the classes that we teach here at the nursery by far the most popular one is Pruning. Even with all the You Tube opportunities there is nothing quite like seeing how to do it firsthand.

This Saturday, November 7, at 10 am and/or Sunday at 1pm you can come learn all the basics of pruning your shrubs and fruit and flowering trees and Japanese maples and evergreens and hedges and hydrangeas and whatever else you might have in your yard.

For the frustrated wife whose husband wants to prune everything with a chainsaw or the frustrated husband whose wife won’t let him even touch a pair of hand pruners, this class will solve a whole lot of marital discord at a fraction of the cost of a marriage counselor. Please RSVP if you plan to attend.

Finally, if ever there was the perfect time to plant bulbs it would be this month. Nothing could be easier than digging a hole, dropping in a handful of bulbs, covering them back up and forgetting that you ever did it until you see their little noses poking out of the ground in January or February.

There’s nothing quite as uplifting as a cheery clump of bright yellow daffodils just about the time you are beginning to think that winter will never end. Garden centers will usually still have a good selection to choose from and they will often be on sale so don’t let the craziness of the holidays keep you from planting a few of these gems. You won’t be sorry come spring.

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

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