A new garden has been planted in the Rim country this month. It's a garden of knowledge, presented to the community by the High Country Xeriscape Council of Arizona. A collection of 16 books, all dealing with low water-use plants and upper-elevation gardening has been donated to the Payson Public Library.
The idea was conceived and cultivated by the HCXCA planning committee, chaired by Donna Rokoff early in 2004.
Books donated by individual members, Fulcrum Publishing of Colorado, and the estate of Edward Lydic are now available for lending at the library. The collection, which will be expanded as other titles become available, was donated in memory of Ed Lydic, our friend and very active HCXCA member until his death in the fall of 2003. Anyone who would like to add to this collection is asked to contact Ms. Rokoff at (928) 474-1542.
Torrie Harding, who runs the cataloging section of the library, said the books can be found in the Southwestern garden section, and referenced in the catalog system under "Xeriscape." Several of the books include hands-on, how-to information on designing and planting an eco-friendly low water-use landscape. Others are treasure troves of information about individual plants. For a complete list of the books in this collection, go to www.xeriscapeaz. org.
The xeriscape council will be holding its annual fall planning meeting for the coming year on Monday, Nov. 1. Ideas will be harvested and considered for cultivating projects for next year. Anyone interested in learning about low water-use gardening, and helping to educate others in this forward looking lifestyle, is invited to attend. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in room 101 at Gila County Community College. Refreshments will be served.
An autumn workshop will be offered for the public at 10 a.m. on Nov. 6 on the patio of GCCC. Participants will prepare seed balls of clay, potting soil, native wildflower, and grass seed. When broadcast along roadsides, meadows, and the outer perimeter of properties, the ingredients in these seed balls will lie and wait for nature to take its course. Winter rain and snow will melt the clay, which will give protection to the seeds. The seeds will glean nutrients from the potting soil, and when temperatures are right for germination, the seedlings will emerge. This workshop is free of charge and children are welcome, but must be accompanied by an adult. All materials will be furnished.
While the weather is still beckoning us out of doors, it's now time to:
- Plant. Spring flowering bulbs go into the ground now. Dig a planting hole, drop in a little bone meal, place the bulbs, and cover with chicken wire, which will retard digging by javelina and squirrels. Unless desperate, most animals will not eat daffodils or narcissus. Grape, hyacinth and tulips are javelina candy. Replace the soil and tamp slightly. Water well.
Divide iris tubers, cut back tops, add a little compost to the hole, and replant.
Permanent plants such as shrubs, trees, ground covers, and perennials can be planted now, which will give their roots an opportunity to establish over the winter.
There's still time to broadcast wildflower seed.
- Maintain. Keep hummingbird feeders clean and filled until at least two weeks after you've seen your last hummer. Although there are a few hardy souls that over-winter in some of our warmer microclimates, most leave for the lower desert. The little birds need to build up as much body fat as possible for their migratory flight, and as most flowers are disappearing now, feeders are a big help to these tiny birds. Give birdbaths a hearty scrub with vinegar, rinse well and keep filled to continue to attract birds.
- The time to cut back all hardy perennials will be after the first hard freeze. Some plants with seed heads can be left for winter seed eating birds, and they also lend texture and visual interest to the winter garden. Spread compost, pine needles, straw or whatever other organic matter you may have over beds of bulbs, vegetables, and perennials.