Opinion: Enjoy your garden while you still can

Typically August is a time to enjoy the garden while gathering and preserving produce. Expectations are that a hard frost can come anytime from the end of August. For some August is close to the end of gardening season, while others will continue to garden until the ground freezes or the snow flies.

Those who want to continue gardening can plant spinach now. It will germinate and thrive in the cooler weather providing greens until it is covered with snow. Given a good snow cover, the plant will continue to grow and produce next spring once the snow has melted.

By the middle of August annuals can begin to look overgrown and scraggly. The choice is to: ignore and let them die, cut them back and hope they will rebound or replant with ones that are more frost resistant. Pansies and violas are cold crops meaning they do better in the spring and fall than they do in the heat of the summer. Adding fresh plants into the flower bed or container garden will brighten up the landscape. A mass planting will have a better overall visual effect than spreading them throughout the yard.

Chrysanthemums or mums are another fall flower. Morgan mums are prairie hardy but these plants are not readily available in garden centres and box stores in the fall. Instead large pots of colourful annual chrysanthemums are available in mono colour or with two to four different colours within one pot. The plants will withstand a light frost but should be covered or taken inside during heavy frosts for them to last until the ground begins to freeze.

As for enjoying gardens, walk through neighbourhoods and enjoy what others have planted. Many gardeners are very happy to show their garden to others.

Look for open gardens and garden tours. Check local garden clubs, garden centres, social media and by word of mouth.

The Alberta Dahlia and Gladiolus flower show and sale will be held at the Piper Creek Trial Gardens in Red Deer on 40th Aveue (south of 19th Street) on Aug. 20 and 21. The flowers are always magnificent with local, provincial and national flowers on display. It is also a great time to view new and upcoming Dahlia varieties.

Flowers and arrangements will be for sale on Saturday Aug. 21 at 3 p.m. Money goes to supporting the trial gardens and show.

Olds College, (Olds) University of Alberta Botanic Gardens (Devin), Muttart Conservatory (Edmonton), Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden (Lethbridge) and the Calgary Zoo have outstanding funded gardens. Plan to spend at least a half of a day enjoying these gardens.

Lastly, remember to take time to enjoy local gardens including your own. Sit and enjoy what you and others have created. Invite others over to enjoy the garden before days get shorter and colder. Gardens are always changing, meaning that chances are that this year’s garden was different from last year’s and will be different from next year’s. Enjoy it while you can.

Linda Tomlinson has gardened in central Alberta for over 30 years. She can be reached at your_garden@hotmail.com.