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Planting in the fall and gardening for your kids

As Autumn approaches, we here at Ginkgo Gardens get very excited as Autumn is the best time to install a wide variety of perennials and shrubs. We find that it allows for the plants to easily establish in their new homes and allows better maturity of roots. In Washington, DC we can have terrible hot summers, which can be quite stressful on plants installed in late spring. Installing a selection of perennials and shrubs in the fall will allow that extra time for your plants to settle in.

It is also a wonderful time of year to take note on how your garden is progressing, and fill in as needed. A garden is never fully finished, as it requires ongoing maintenance and tending to. It is also a great opportunity during this time of year to install bulbs! Whether you install bulbs that only last for a season or two, or hardy bulbs such as daffodils, now it a great time to be thinking of which bulbs to install in your garden this fall (our bulbs arrived today in the shop!). Bulbs provide beautiful color in the early spring, and require very little maintenance.

With Autumn arriving soon, it is a wonderful time to think about any new projects you may want to develop in your garden. One type of garden we enjoy discussing with our customers and clients is creating a garden space for kids. As some people may initially think that a big open lawn is the only option for kids, we encourage you to consider a garden full of pollinator and native plants, with a smaller size lawn (or even no lawn!). When looking back at our childhood, and the fun-filled memories of being outdoors, many kids will interact more with the colors and insects that they see, and remember those memories as they grow older. Creating a year-round native and pollinator garden in your landscape will surely provide a wide selection of interest and enjoyment. Kids love seeing the butterflies, variety of birds (especially the hummingbirds) and bees fly about the garden. Below are a list of easy-to-grow plants that will surely bring joy to you, your children and our local wildlife:

Agastache foeniculum (anise hyssop) - grows well in full sun to part shade, this beautiful long blooming perennial is sure to attract a wide variety of butterflies and bees. This native is especially beautiful with tall blue-purple flowers, and quite easy to grow. They come in a variety of cultivars as well, such as 'Blue Fortune' or 'Golden Jubilee'.

Monarda didyma (scarlet beebalm) - grows in full sun to part shade, another beautiful native that attracts hummingbirds from far and near. Kids especially love it as they look like fireworks (which they tend to bloom around the 4th of July in DC!)

Helianthus annuus (common sunflower) - one of the easiest plants to grow, this native annual is sure to attract a collection of butterflies, bees and birds (such as cardinals and goldfinch). Kids especially love these as some varieties can grow quite big (up to 10 ft!). Sunflowers are best to directly sow the seeds in the spring (after frost), which kids enjoy planting themselves.

Stachys byzantina (lambs ear) - not a native but a great perennial, this plant is certainly a favorite for many kids! This easy-to-grow perennial that thrives in full sun has very soft and fuzzy leaves, hence the name Lambs Ear. We recommend this plant for kids as it is a great introduction to touch and texture within the garden.

Cephalanthus occidentalis (common buttonbush) - a very unique shrub that we find kids quite enjoy, this native shrub that has fun button-like white flowers (a favorite for bees and butterflies too). This is particularly a great shrub if you have a very wet spot in your garden.

Antirrhinum sp. (snapdragons) - as the name suggests, this annual brings such fun for the kids as the flowers resemble dragons opening and closing their mouths. This is a great introduction plant for kids, as it allows them to interact with the plants closely while checking out their fun colors.

Along with these great native and colorful plants, we also encourage our clients and customers to create an edibles + vegetable garden for your kids. Even if you're not the best at growing veggies, there are a variety of easy-to-grow edibles that every kid can enjoy including strawberries, kale, lettuce, pumpkins, sunflowers and much more.

Introducing some of the plants listed above into your garden (as well as many more varieties of plants), we guarantee your kids will find enjoyment within your garden, and may even want to create garden spaces of their own with a few of their own favorite plants!

Written By: Kellie Cox (Landscape Designer at Ginkgo Gardens)

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