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Gardening & More: Tips on putting those summer gardens to bed

FALL IS COMING — There are some leaves you want in your garden over the winter, but some should be removed. Ken Brown of Toronto will give tips about preparing gardens for winter, during the fall fair on Sept. 8 at Lockwood’s Greenhouses, 4484 Clark St. in Hamburg. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko.
SPRINGVILLE — Ken Brown of Toronto, a horticulturist who landscaped exhibits at the Toronto Zoo, will be the featured speaker at the fall fair on Saturday, Sept. 8 at Lockwood’s Greenhouses, 4484 Clark St., Hamburg.

Brown shared a few tips on putting the garden to bed. He will speak about growing plants from seeds.

Incidentally, there are two well-known Ken Browns in local gardening circles. Ken Brown of Buffalo is the host of the Home Garden Show that runs on Saturday mornings at 11 a.m. on WBEN.

The Ken Brown who will be speaking at Lockwood’s lives outside Toronto. His exhibits are housed inside pavilions at the Toronto Zoo, so proper climate conditions can be maintained. Brown used his experience creating those indoor exhibits and went on to operate an interior landscaping firm.

Brown has also done some outside commercial work and, for a number of years, grew vegetables on his one acre of land in Whitby, to feed his family. His children have grown up and left home, but he said he has still not cut his gardens back.

Brown shared some tips on putting gardens to bed. The biggest thing people have to remember is that gardening doesn’t end at this time of year, he explained.

“I’m still planting Brussels sprouts in late November,” he said. “There’s so much yet to do.”

Begin cleaning up the garden later in the fall. The garden will let you know when it is time to begin.

“Clean plants up when they look dead,” Brown said. “As things turn yellow and fall over, you can cut them down. When they quit, clean them up.”

Since different varieties of plants end their growing seasons at different times, space out the work.

“You can putter away at it,” Brown said. “It’s not as if one weekend you have to go out and put the whole garden to bed.”

Clean up dead plants to prevent pests from spreading. For example, the iris borer’s eggs survive on dead iris leaves, so get those out of your garden to control that pest. Zucchini tends to get mildewed leaves so, if those leaves remain, the mildew spores will be right in your garden soil.

Do not put those leaves in your compost. Instead, gather them up, put them in a bag and throw them away.

If your town or city gathers up lawn clippings, those leaves will go to a composting facility. However, those composting facilities are much bigger and hotter than a home compost pile and will probably be enough to kill harmful pests.

Leaves are good mulch for garden beds. Brown said that he allows leaves from apple trees to remain in his garden. “I even steal them from my neighbors,” he said. “They make wonderful mulch. And maple leaves in a vegetable garden are highly unlikely to hurt anything.”

In his talk, Brown will explain which leaves should be raked out and which should be raked into your garden.

Autumn is a great time to prepare for next year, not just cleaning up dead plants, but planting new things, too.

“This is a wonderful time to plant deciduous shrubs and trees,” Brown said. “They have a chance to put good roots into the cool soil.

“Nurseries have them on sale, too. They’re less expensive and it’s the perfect time of year to plant them. The nurseries would rather sell them now than go to the trouble of having to overwinter them, so you’re doing them a favor, when you buy them. It’s a win-win for both sides.”

Autumn is also the perfect time to plant bulbs, according to Brown.

“Buy a bunch of bulbs and put them to bed and they’ll reward you in the spring,” he said. “Don’t forget that there are bulbs other than tulips and daffodils.”

Snow drops are the earliest to bloom, as the snow recedes.

Another very early bloomer is the bulbus iris, an iris that grows from a bulb, rather than a rhizome. It blooms a week ahead of the crocus.

Still another pretty spring bulb is puschkinia.

You can learn more about these topics by attending Brown’s talks at Lockwood’s Fall Fair on Sept. 8 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Lockwood’s Greenhouses, 4484 Clark St., Hamburg.

Other great classes will also be held, that day. While admission to the fair is free, there are charges for the classes. Pre-register at Lockwood’s, by calling 649-4684 or by visiting The website also includes the full schedule for the day.

The fair will include more than 24 local vendors and artisans offering garden art, jewelry, nature-themed décor, gifts, pottery, props and tools.

Connie Oswald Stofko is publisher of, the online gardening magazine for Western New York. Email


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