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Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2007 01:57 pm

Enjoy fall’s colors — and do some yard work

This weekend provides the perfect opportunity to see the scenery

Untitled Document As I drove to work this morning, I had trouble keeping my eyes from wandering to the bright-yellow ash leaves and brilliant-red sugar maple leaves, and, as temperatures cool, leaf-color changes will become even more dramatic. This weekend, get out and enjoy the beauty of fall — but, before setting out on your trip, take some time to learn about fall colors and tips for taking a walk in the woods. “The Miracle of Fall” (www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/fallcolor) is a University of Illinois Extension Web page bearing links to live foliage cameras that give you an idea of changes in various sites around the country. The page also provides information on fall festivals and other events, plus suggestions for the best places to find fall color in the Illinois-Indiana-Michigan-Wisconsin region. Another U of I Extension Web site, “A Walk in the Woods” (www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/woods), lets visitors enjoy a trip to the woods. Although the site is designed for children, adults will enjoy the information as well. If you plan to take an all-day trip, visit the “Illinois Mile after Magnificent Mile” Web site (enjoyillinois.com/falloweenroadtrips), which offers great information on what it has dubbed “Fantastic Fall-o-ween Road Trips.”
Some of us may be content staying at home this weekend and preparing our gardens for the coming winter. Because we have not experienced the first killing frost of the fall, there has been little to do in the garden, but with night temperatures edging closer to the high thirties, we may soon be saying goodbye to our summer annuals. Here’s a short checklist for fall cleanup in the garden: · Remove annuals from the garden. · Start a compost pile with leaves and annuals removed from the garden. · Plant spring-blooming bulbs. (Garlic may still be planted.) · Inspect houseplants for pests before bringing them indoors. · Empty, clean, and store decorative containers.
· Drain and store garden hoses before the temperature drops below freezing. · Wait until the ground freezes before mulching plants. · Mow turfgrass until growth stops. · Till the vegetable garden so that it is ready for a spring crop. · Cut back perennials that are known to reseed, such as purple coneflower, black-eyed Susan, northern sea oats, and blackberry lily. · Remove plant debris from diseased or insect-infested perennials. · Leave ornamental grasses in the garden for winter interest. · After the first frost, dig up tender bulbs such as dahlias, caladiums, cannas, and gladiolas. Cure them in a warm room and then store them at approximately 55 degrees. · Continue to deep-water needled and broadleaf evergreens. · Plant a tree.
A “must-do” this weekend is a visit to the Old Capitol Farmers’ Market, which is held on Adams Street between Third and Fifth streets. Oct. 27 is the last Saturday for this year’s market, which closes on Wednesday, Oct. 31. Hours are 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Vendors will be offering winter squash, pumpkins, apples, spinach, and much more.  

Jennifer Fishburn is a horticulture educator with the University of Illinois Extension Sangamon-Menard Unit. Contact her at fishburn@uiuc.edu.
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