Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Fall planning for your garden and beyond

By Jan Little

Autumn is not far off—a time of year that gardeners look forward to throughout the growing season.
Autumn signals that it is garden payoff time. It’s an amazing festival of vegetables, fruits and flowers, with enough zucchini to give away, canning to complete, and freezing to save some produce for winter treats. It means the work of the season is slowing down and the temperatures are cooling for enjoyable days or evenings in your garden.

And it’s time to begin dreaming about next year.

While you are finishing up the season, autumn is also a great time to plant new perennials, bulbs and woody plants. Consider taking a class at Duke Gardens to brush up on new plant selections and different gardening strategies, or to introduce your children to the wonders of growing plants.

Duke Gardens has an array of programs, festivals and classes planned for this fall, including several festivals to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Duke Gardens' dedication in April 1939. The celebrations pay tribute to the years of Duke Gardens – just imagine the changes this garden has witnessed since 1939! But, more importantly, these events honor the community’s care and affection for the Gardens. Join us through April 2014 to celebrate 75 years of growing this garden.

Asian Arts Day on Sept. 22 will bring a range of performers, artists and instructors to showcase Asian culture with tea gatherings in the Sister Cities Tea Pavilion, storytelling, haiku poetry, martial arts demonstrations, drumming and other activities. Enjoy strolling through the Culberson Asiatic Arboretum while you participate in Asian Arts Day activities from noon to 3 p.m.

Vegetables and growing take center stage at the Fall Festival in the Charlotte Brody Discovery Garden, with activities for the entire family. Join us for pollinator games, beekeeping demonstrations, planting activities and salsa tastings, along with gardening information from Durham County Master Gardeners, SEEDS, and the Beekeeping Club of Durham. The program is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 13, from noon to 3 p.m., with a finale provided by the Riverside High School Orchestra performing its fall concert selections.

Our popular Fall Plant Sale will be Saturday, Sept. 28, from 9 a.m. to noon, featuring rare and unusual plants – along with the tried and true – that every southern garden should include.  Doris Duke Center Gardens curator Jason Holmes offered a sneak peek of several plants that will be featured. Two examples: blue wild indigo (Baptisia australis) and climbing aster (Ampelaster carolinianus), are beautiful native perennial plants for your garden. Jason also reminds gardeners that the spring show of flowering bulbs is dependent upon fall planting of those bulbs. Join us at the plant sale to find your fall favorites.

Young gardeners will explore nature and gardening in several programs, beginning with Nature for Sprouts, which introduces nature to your children through songs, stories, creative projects and garden adventures. This class, which includes both children and parents, meets for four Fridays, beginning Sept. 6, from 10:30-11:30 a.m.

For more information, please go to or call 919-668-1707. We hope you enjoy your autumn—both in Duke Gardens and in your own garden.

Sarah P. Duke Gardens creates and nurtures an environment in the heart of Duke University for learning, inspiration and enjoyment through excellence in horticulture. The Gardens receives roughly half of its operating budget from Duke University. The rest comes from people like you, who value all that this public botanic garden has to offer. Duke Gardens is at 420 Anderson St. in Durham.

Jan Little is Duke Gardens’ director of education and public programs. For information about Gardens programs, please go to

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