Hakonechloa macra ‘Aurea’ October Plant of the Month

My perennial bed looks pretty sad right now but there is still one shining star. The Hakonechloa macra ‘Aurea’  has looked great all summer and well into fall. It’s especially nice right now because it’s a bright spot in the otherwise declining look of the garden. It’s a great 3 season plant. It has terrific spring freshness. It gives a good punch to the summer border and it holds on well into fall. It’s a shade lover but in the PNW, it grows just fine with some sun. I have it mixed with Hosta Sunpower, which survives just fine in full sun.

Hakonechloa macra 'Aurea' at Lakewold

Hakonechloa macra 'Aurea' at Lakewold

Hakone Grass or Japanese Forest Grass is all gold with a fountain like form and silky texture. It grows in zones 5-9 and reaches a height of 18″ by 36″…eventually. It’s a very slow grower. Better to buy a few and clump them together for a flash of color.

Tulips and Deer


It’s Win, Win

Run, don’t walk to your local nursery for BARGAINS! Fall is the very best time to find out-of-bloom and past-interest plants at amazing prices. Nurseries “downsize” in the fall to get rid of summer and make room for Christmas trees. I know it seems early but that’s what happens. The kicker is…fall is the very best time to plant in the Northwest anyway. The soil is warm and the rains are ready to fall. It’s win-win.

Deer Proof Bulbs

Tulips and deer don’t mix. Deer treat tulips like popsicles and instead of regal flowers you end up with a tidy row of sticks. Evidently, deer are particular about timing. Bambi likes the flowers just as the petals begin to show color. So, if you’re planting bulbs now and you have deer, skip the tulips and plant the daffodils. Deer don’t like daffs. Even better, deer detest ornamental onions. Try Allium ‘Globemaster’. It grows almost 3 feet tall and has an 8” purple ball at the top. It makes a statement.

Put Away the Pruners

Resist the temptation to cut shrubs back in the fall, especially if they bloomed in the spring. Leave spring bloomers like rhodies, azaleas, forsythia and kolkwitzia alone. Go easy on the hydrangeas too. Hydrangeas particularly look a little on the ugly side by the time fall rolls. The tendency for neatness in the garden should be avoided when it comes to hydrangeas. They need woody stems to hold up those beautiful, giant summer flowers so take off last year’s spent flowers but leave woody stems for next year’s flowers.

Summer Extension

Autumn in the South Sound is frequently an extension of summer. We can have summer like weather through Halloween. Our seasons seem to have shifted forward a few weeks. So, if you still have ripe tomatoes and don’t want to go to the trouble of actually doing anything with them now, freeze them whole. When you want them in the winter, pop them out of the freezer and thaw them out for sauces. The tomato skin slips right off. Easy is good.

Familiar Names and Places

You may have noticed small sepia-toned books in local bookstores with titles like “Salmon Beach”, “Proctor District”, “Lakewood”, “Key Peninsula,”, “Anderson Island” and now “Woodbrook Hunt Club”, a history of the Fort Lewis Prairie area. The list of local history books in the “Images of America” series goes on and on. The books are about 60 pages long and are filled with archival photographs, charts, maps and local history. Take a look at a few of them. If you have lived in the South Sound for a few years, it’s guaranteed you’ll recognize names of people and places. If you’re new to the area, they’re great for some local background. Arcadia Publishing, $20 at any local bookstore.