Rock Garden: Season of Renewal

By: Patrick McLoughlin

As we enter the end of the summer season and the days begin to shorten, cooler air and rainy weather can remind us of autumn approaching. With that comes the fruits of our labor in the vegetable garden as well as a fresh array of colors brought to us by tarnishing tree leaves. Most of the edible plants in the garden are beginning to slow down, however gourds and apples are ripe for the picking. Most squash are in peak season, and soon pumpkins will be surrounding storefronts as Halloween draws near. Some might say that the lively and vibrant seasons have come and gone for 2020, but this transitional point in the calendar features many local perennials that tend to keep flowering well into October. One such plant is the crape myrtle, a flowering shrub that thrives in the summer sun and can survive frost events.  These shrubs were in their prime about a month ago, and have continued to flower up till this point in the year. They are ideal to keep in the garden for Rockland residents, as they can add a burst of color with very little yearly maintenance. Pruning them back once their leaves fall off can help a homeowner sculpt the plant to their liking as well as ensure fresh growth and flowers the following year. One should also keep an eye out for goldenrod, ornamental grasses, sedums and other plants putting on a show. Goldenrod is an important plant, as it continues to flower up until we experience a frost event, and this is important for local pollinators needing a source of nectar late in the season. These plants and others can add layers of depth to your backyard landscape and ecosystem, but when it comes time to plant things in the spring it can be hard to get creative when buying plants. When you’re out and about, shopping or commuting, if a plant catches your eye or looks particularly nice for that time of year, always try and get a picture or identify the plant so you can include it in your own garden. Local natural areas can be an abundance of inspiration for future projects.