by Emma Lane
Don your flannel shirts and gloves! Fall is here and the garden is calling. Four types of blossoms stand out for me at this time of year.
1. SUNFLOWERS: For years I wondered why my plants came up with big gaps in the rows. Fat chipmunks, thieving rodents! Now I plant them inside and when they have four leaves, out they go. Plant dwarf sunflowers in 10 inch patio pots.
2. ZINNIAS: It’s easy to “over love” these plants with too much fertilizer or water. They need both, but moderate. The large ones grow up to 30 inches high, but all varieties are nice. For bedding, Profusion, Tiger in Performance, Mixed Colors.
3. DAHLIAS: Who doesn’t love these exquisite blooms produced from fat tubers planted in the spring? We plant in the soil in a ‘dahlia house’ to ignore early frosts. To over winter, the tubers must be dug and stored in a dry place inside.
4. MUMS: Pinched until the 4th of July for a bushy plant with multiple blossoms. Perennial? Yes, with a caveat–well drained and mulched for cold zones. When you buy a mum in full bloom, plant immediately and water every day.
Perennial News: Should I deadhead in the Fall? I save all those duties for Spring when it’s too early to plant. Birds love the seeds. (Goldfinch love Rudbecia and Echinacea especially.) Tidy gardeners make your own decisions; the plant isn’t harmed either way. During Summer, plants benefit from snipping spent blooms to keep them going.
Powder Mildew: What’s that white stuff on the leaves? Plants get all sorts of diseases when they are stressed—just like people. For example: too hot, too dry, too wet, not enough fertilizer, too much fertilizer, too much sun, not enough. Home gardeners should check for organic treatments. I strongly recommend harsh chemicals be left to experts.
Fall Sales: Prices may be great, but check for disease. Don’t introduce something to your healthy garden you’ll regret. Trust your local shop owners who live in the community.
Perennial for next year: Garden Phlox ‘Nicki’ Hearty with deep purple blooms.
Bulbs: Plant any day now. You’ll avoid straight lines of ‘soldiers’ when you plant bulbs in clusters. Best buy? Grape Hyacinths are very reliable year after year and inexpensive. Indulge yourself! Most fun? Early blooming red and yellow tulips.
Now that your garden is set for fall, enjoy a good book and relax. May I suggest my latest Regency?
Can an arrogant duke overcome his prejudice against a beautiful but managing female in time to find true love and happiness?
Miss Amabel Hawkins acknowledges her unusual upbringing, but she thinks James Langley, the Duke of Westerton, might be a tad unbalanced when he protests her efforts to right his badly managed properties. The duke, who has been away on the king’s business, demonstrates no respect for the beautiful but managing Miss Hawkins. Amabel has taken refuge at Westerton, fleeing from a forced marriage to a man who claims to be her relative in order to gain control of her young brother’s estate.
The Duke arrives home to find his estate under the firm control of a beautiful but managing female. His suspicions are fueled by his recent task of spy-hunting and he wonders if Amabel Hawkins is just who she seems. While a dastardly spy lurks, a wicked man poses as her cousin threatening to take over the guardianship of her young brother. Amabel might be falling in love, but she knows for certain the duke would never approve of a meddlesome woman, and she decides to flee his estate. Will the duke finally realize the true value of the woman he loves or will his prejudice ruin his chances forever?
Fatigue and the effects of the brandy on top of the ale now gave his gait a distinct wobble. He chuckled, amused at his condition.
As he reached for the portrait of great Uncle Barney, he lurched into the back of the red leather sofa in front of the cosy fire. “Deuce take it,” he exclaimed when a rounded arm rolled into view. He spotted the gentle curve of a hip and walked around to the front, where he spied a tumbled haze of dark curls hiding a face. It is indeed a female—a sleeping female.
Who was she? The gown was too rich for his household staff. Curious, he knelt beside the sofa.
“Only one way to find out,” he whispered and moved one dark curl. He sat back, satisfied when a handsome face swam into view. She sighed and rolled over, revealing a generous figure and a pair of rosy lips. She might be Sleeping Beauty—but not one of my relatives. He leaned over and kissed those tempting lips.
As he lingered there, she sighed and came partially awake. He could not resist. He deepened the kiss and sounds of satisfaction like yum and umm came from those delicious lips. Her hand stroked his face, then reached around his head to pull him closer. Delighted with this turn of events, the Duke of Westerton complied enthusiastically and extended an arm around a slender waist. How much of the ale and brandy had he imbibed? Dizziness overcame his senses as he slid down on the floor and knew no more.
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Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes under several pen-names. She lives with her patient husband on several acres outside a typical American village in Western New York. Her day job is working with flowers at her son’s plant nursery. Look for information about writing and plants on her new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.