LEWIS & CLARK EXPEDITION 200 YEARS AGO TODAY 12/11/1804

Captain Clark tailors a new pair of gloves and a hat from a bobcat pelt. The captains cancel any future hunting until the men become acclimated to the cold weather.

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PREPARING THE PERENNIAL GARDEN FOR WINTER

With winter quickly approaching, its time to make sure the perennial garden is ready for its long sleep. However, if you do nothing at all, you'll simply have more work to be done in the spring. The following advice will help you determine which fall chores should have high priority and which are optional.

Most fall chores in the perennial garden simply have to wait until mid to late fall, especially cutting back the tops of plants. Cutting back plants too early may result in a sudden flush of soft growth at a time of year that is risky. The goal is to allow your perennials to become dormant according to their own natural schedule, responding to the cooler weather and shortening days. There will be plenty of mild days to cut things back selectively later in November and December.

If color in your garden seems to have languished after September rolls around, consider putting in some late-blooming perennials to spruce things up. Hardy Mums, pansies and kale are very popular for fall display, but many other perennials can provide much-needed color at this time of year.

Here are some perennials to consider: Rudbeckia, Echinacea, Russian Sage (Perovskia), Bugbane (Cimicifuga), Fall Asters (Michaelmas Daisies), Tricyrtis (Toad Lilies) and Autumn Monkshood (Aconitum).

Early Fall is a good time to do these jobs:
• Edge your perennial beds.
• Continue dead-heading any daisy-flowered perennials, especially ones like Echinacea, Rudbeckia and False Sunflower (Heliopsis). These will continue flowering for weeks if you prevent the flowers from forming seeds.
• Remove any perennial weeds that have invaded the garden. A non-selective herbicide is a good way to remove the spreading types, applied carefully while the weather is still warm and the weeds are actively growing.
• Remove any annual weeds that are going to seed. Throw these in the garbage, not in the compost pile or next year there will be ten times as many.
• Empty your compost bin. Early fall is a great time for this, since it makes room for all those leaves, dead plant tops, etc. that you will have on hand in another few weeks. If your compost is not quite ready, maybe there is some corner it can be stockpiled to finish rotting before spring.
• Re-evaluate and perhaps consider renovating your perennial garden.
• Take pictures, make notes, start a scrapbook or do anything at all that allows you to remember the past season with its successes and failures in detail. You can even just mark plants for moving next spring using that brightly coloured surveyor's flagging tape.
• Consider moving some plants around now, or maybe even removing some losers to make room for better things.
• Go to the garden center and look at shrubs and evergreens; special internet savings and fall sales at Greenscape Gardens. Look for shrubs with attractive fruit in the fall or winter. These will look great with ornamental grasses!

MOVING AND DIVIDING PERENNIALS IN THE FALL

Moving or dividing perennials in the autumn is a great way to reduce your work next spring. The cool, moist weather is an ideal time for perennial roots to become well established. Gardeners often ask us when the best season is to move specific perennials, so we have a working "rule of thumb" for timing.

Jennifer's Rule-of-Thumb for when to move or divide perennials:
• If the plant blooms between early spring and late June, then early fall division/moving is ideal.
• If the plant blooms after late June, then early spring division is ideal.

Exceptions to the rule are: Peonies (move/divide in fall only), Oriental Poppies (move/divide in August), Bearded Iris (move/divide in July through September) and true Lilies (move/divide in mid to late fall).

Of course, rules are made to be broken, so sometimes just see what happens. Just remember that if you move or divide a big, bushy perennial always cut back the foliage by at least half to prevent serious wilting. This helps to keep the leaf mass in proportion to the reduced number of roots!

LATE AUTUMN CHORES

A couple of good, hard frosts makes a big difference in the garden. Some perennials immediately begin to go dormant, while others seem to want to hang on into late fall. We encourage leaving most perennials alone in the fall if you are unsure of what winter interest they might provide. It would seem a shame, for instance, to cut back those big, beautiful clumps of ornamental grasses in the fall, ruining any opportunity to hear them rustling in the winter winds, or to enjoy the contrast of their wheat-colored stems against clean, fresh snow. Winter interest is entirely subjective, and only you can decide what is attractive to your eye, or what looks tired and messy.

Here are a few tips and ideas:
• Fall-blooming ornamental grasses usually remain awesome well into the winter. Don't cut back the ornamental grasses before late winter or early spring. Some gardeners are now waiting even beyond THAT, and enjoying the effect of wheat-colored grass clumps contrasting with spring-flowering bulbs!
• Seed heads of certain perennials provide food for finches and other birds, and they look great against a blanket of snow. Most late flowering daisy type perennials are on this list (like Rudbeckia and Purple Coneflower), but others with nice seed-heads and sturdy stems include: Achillea, Agastache, Aster, Astilbe, Baptisia, Buddleia, Chelone, Cimicifuga, Eryngium, Eupatorium, taller Sedum, and a few others.
• There is a common theory that the dead tops of perennials help to trap the snow, which is the very best insulation against cold temperatures. In St. Louis with erratic snowcover and mid-winter thaws, the tiny bit of extra snow that is actually trapped may in fact be of little benefit.
• Many perennials have very little winter interest. Cutting these types back in the fall effectively "clears the clutter" and makes the ones you leave look even better. Consider cutting these down in late fall: Alchemilla, Anemone, Campanula, Centaurea, Coreopsis, Delphinium, Dicentra, Euphorbia, Geranium, Hemerocallis, Hosta, Lychnis, Monarda, Nepeta, Oenothera, Phlox (tall types), Trollius, Veronica.

Certain perennials naturally carry over a low clump of evergreen leaves near the ground, known as a "rosette". Although you can trim the upright stems back, these lower leaves need to be left alone in the fall. By spring they often look a little worse for wear, but a quick trim with scissors (only the brown or dead parts) will tidy the plants up again. In this group are: Achillea, Aster, Coreopsis, Digitalis, Erigeron, Fragaria, Gaillardia, Geum, Heuchera, Bearded Iris, Shasta Daisies, Penstemon, Poppies, Polemonium, Potentilla, Salvia, Scabiosa, Stachys, Tiarella, Verbascum, and many of the hardy ferns.

Evergreen perennials and alpines should not be trimmed in the fall. Usually the best time to trim these is immediately after blooming, if at all. Leave these ones alone in the fall: Ajuga, Alyssum, Arabis, Armeria, Artemisia 'Powis Castle' and 'Huntingdon', Aubrieta, Aurinia, Bergenia, Cerastium, Corydalis, Dianthus, Epimedium (trim in late winter, before new buds appear), evergreen Euphorbia, Helianthemum, Helleborus, Heuchera, Iberis, Kniphofia, Lamium, Lavender, Liriope, Origanum, Phlox (creeping types), Primula, Pulmonaria, Sagina, Saxifraga, Sedum (many creeping types), Sempervivum, Teucrium, Thymus, Viola.

Certain woody-stemmed perennials are better left alone in the fall, and pruned back in the spring, leaving about 6 inches of woody stem for the new buds to appear from. These include: Buddleia, Caryopteris, Erysimum 'Bowles' Mauve', Fuchsia, Hypericum, Lavatera, Perovskia (Russian Sage), Phygelius, Santolina.

And, finally, certain perennials with associated disease or insect problems should not only be cut back in the fall, but care should be taken to remove and destroy the leaf litter below them, where insects and pathogens may be hiding. Among these: Alcea (Hollyhocks), Aquilegia (Columbine), Crocosmia, Delphinium, Helenium, Heliopsis, Hemerocallis (Daylily), Iris (Bearded types, leave green leaves alone but remove all dead ones), true Lilies, Monarda, Peonies, Summer Phlox, Tricyrtis, and Veronica (tall types).

LATE FALL MULCHING OF PERENNIALS

Mulch adds a layer of insulation on top of the soil, preventing sudden changes in soil temperature (from either deep freezing OR thawing), changes that can wreak havoc to the root systems of tender plants. The following perennials should always be mulched in the St. Louis area:

• Autumn-flowering ornamental grasses, especially newly planted.
• Japanese Anemones, Probably only required for the first winter.

Mulching materials should be organic matter that remains loose and won't pack down to suffocate your plants. Good choices include hardwood mulch, dried leaves (a mix of different types is best), clean straw, chopped dead tops from other perennials, evergreen boughs from pruning. Bad choices: peat moss, garden soil, newspaper, sheets of plastic or garbage bags. All of these have a smothering capability.

Mulch can be simply piled high on top of your plants, but a depth of 6 to 8 inches or more is ideal.

HARDY MUMS

Hardy Mums are often called Garden Mums. Basically, Mums are mostly now being bred to produce exuberant cushions of stunning, glorious color in the containers at the time you buy them. For the most part, they are being bred as a temporary holiday plant, to be enjoyed while in flower and then discarded afterwards. The price of Mums makes this very affordable. The hassle of overwintering them and then pinching several times each season in future years (May through July) may not be worth the effort in the end.

Mums need regular fertilizing, a full sun location, regular insect control, and constant watering through droughts in order to ever again achieve that perfect cushion look they had when you bought them. Without all of those things, more often than not they end up looking tall, spindly and bedraggled in their second season. Check them periodically in late winter and spring to make sure the frost has not heaved them from the ground, and press the rootball back in gently. In spring, cut back the dead foliage and wait until about the end of May to see if they survived.

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GREENSCAPE GARDENS JOKE OF THE DAY!

A husband took his wife to play her first round of golf. Nervous, the wife promptly hacked her first shot right through the window of the largest house adjacent to the course.

The husband cringed, "I warned you to be careful! Now we'll have to go up there, find the owner, apologize and see how much your lousy drive is going to cost us."

So the couple walked up to the house and knocked on the door.

A warm voice said, "Come on in."

When they opened the door they saw the damage that was done: glass was all over the place, and a broken antique lamp was lying on its side near the broken window.

A man reclining on the couch asked, "Are you the people that broke my window?"

"Uh...yeah, sir. We're sure sorry about that," the husband replied.

"Oh, no apology is necessary. Actually I want to thank you. You see, I'm a genie, and I've been trapped in that lamp for a thousand years. Now that you've released me, I'm allowed to grant three wishes. I'll give you each one wish, but if you don't mind, I'll keep the last one for myself."

"Wow, that's great!" the husband said. He pondered a moment and blurted out, "I'd like a million dollars a year for the rest of my life."

"No problem," said the genie. "You've got it, it's the least I can do. And I'll guarantee you a long, healthy life! And now you, young lady, what do you want?" the genie asked.

"I'd like to own a gorgeous home complete with servants in every country in the world," she said.

"Consider it done," the genie said. "And your homes will always be safe from fire, burglary and natural disasters!"

"And now," the couple asked in unison, what's your wish, genie?"

"Well, since I've been trapped in that lamp and haven't been with a woman in more than a thousand years, my wish is to have sex with your wife."

The husband looked at his wife and said, "Gee, honey, you know we both now have a fortune, and all those houses. What do you think?"

She mulled it over for a few moments and said, "You know, you're right. Considering our good fortune, I guess I wouldn't mind, but what about you, honey?"

"You know I love you sweetheart," said the husband. I'd do the same for you!"

So the genie and the woman went upstairs where they spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying each other.

After about three hours of non-stop sex, the genie rolled over and looked directly into her eyes and asked, "How old are you and your husband?"

"Why, we're both 35," she responded breathlessly.

" No kidding," he said, "Thirty-five years old and both of you still believe in genies?"
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