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Practical Gardening Monthly

Hello Gardening Friends!  November is here so it's time for the fall clean up of our gardens and yards. Enjoy the change of seasons ... even in these difficult times, nature speaks to us and is a reminder of all the beauty in the world.

Don't fret, there's still time to plant those trees, shrubs and perennials.  Remember they really like to take root without the stress of summer heat.

Also, let's get a jumpstart on our holiday shopping!  I've put together a helpful list of my favorite gardening-related gifts. There's something for everyone from garden newbies to master gardeners ...

Please keep reading for my helpful monthly garden "to do's" listed below.  Discover what's new and blooming at for more gardening advice, tips, and inspiration for your Zone 5 & 6 gardens ...

"Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting, and autumn a mosaic of them all."

~ Stanley Horowitz

Latest Flower Chick Posts
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Flower Chick's Favorite Perennials for Zone 5
The Best Gifts For Gardeners

Here are Flower Chick’s 64 Top Picks for the Best Gifts For Gardeners! These gardening gifts all meet my criteria: good quality, interesting, useful, and something you wouldn’t necessarily buy for yourself (but would love to receive!)

Perfect for the holidays, birthdays, housewarming gifts … just about any occasion you need something special for a gardening enthusiast … from beginners to those with long-standing green thumbs. There’s something here for everyone!

Explore The Best Gardening Gifts
Fall Planting: Bulbs for Zone 5 / 6

Flower bulbs can fill your garden with vibrant color from early spring through late summer and into early fall. 

These hardy, easy to grow, fall planting bulbs are low maintenance wonders which will bloom year after year … plant them now to enjoy next growing season!

Keep reading to discover my seven favorite bulbs to add loads of color and interest to your gardens with minimal effort on your part ...

Discover Bulbs To Plant This Fall

November Garden "To Do" List:

  • Clean Up Your Beds - continue to clean up the garden until it's too cold to be outdoors. Put spent annuals in the compost pile.Work you do this fall will help prevent pests and diseases from overwintering -- and will shorten your spring to-do list!
  • Hold Off On Perennials - many perennials can be left to be cutback in the spring, especially those with plentiful seedheads such as coneflowers or rudbeckia, as the birds will enjoy their seeds through winter. I also like to leave those with winter interest like sedum, grasses & helleborus.
  • Keep Raking! - don't worry about leaves that collect around shrubs and perennials as they'll provide protection until spring. But don't allow leaves to hang out for more than a few days on lawns because they can suffocate the grass.
  • Improve Your Soil -  after your garden has gone dormant, add organic matter to your soil ... such as compost, rotted manure, or shredded leaves. Mix lightly into the top few inches of your beds so that when spring arrives you can plant immediately.
  • There's Still Time To Plant - can't stress enough how optimal fall is for planting. All the benefits of a new tree or shrub, but you don't have to worry about watering all summer.
  • Protect Your Roses - mound up soil around the crown of your rosebush and cover its bud union for winter protection. Tie down the canes of climbing roses so that high winds do not whip them around.
  • Shelter Those Ceramic Pots - bring ceramic and clay pots inside (the garage or basement works), or they may crack in freezing temperatures. Dump the soil on your garden bed and sterilize the pots with a diluted bleach solution. 
  • Clean Your Garden Tools - before storing your garden tools for winter, take the time to clean, sand, and oil them so they are ready to go in spring.
  • Don't Forget Your Hose! - unscrew them from outdoor faucets, or freezing may damage the faucet. Drain hoses and store for the winter.
  • Get Those Bulbs In The Ground - you can still plant spring flowering bulbs into early November.  A little work now will reward you with a colorful spring flower show!
  • Wrap Young Trees -  those just a year or two old, and fruit trees ,will appreciate a protective wrap of paper, plastic or foam around their trunks to protect them from winter scald and rabbit / deer damage. Remove the wrap come spring.
  • Dig Up Your Tender Bulbs - cannas, dahlias, elephant ear, caladium and the like need to be dug up carefully in frost-prone zones for indoor storage. Stash them in a dry spot like an unheated garage or basement at around 40-50 degrees. 
  • Mow The Lawn -  mow your lawn as late into the fall as the grass grows. Grass left too long when deep snow arrives can develop brown patches in the spring.
  • Plant Conifers - this is a great time to plant evergreen trees and evergreen shrubs, such as pines, spruces, and firs, because the plants will have time to develop their roots before the winter conditions.
  • Prepare For New Flower Beds - if you plan to put in a new flower bed next spring, cover that area now with mulch or heavy plastic to discourage weed growth when the ground warms up in the spring. 
Vibrant Celosia in Bloom by
Travel To Midwestern Gardens

Need a little gardening inspiration? Looking for some good cheer and vicarious travel?  Get inspired by the Midwest’s beautiful botanical gardens, arboretums, and other stunning natural attractions! Join us as we visit these wonderful Zone 5 & Zone 6 sites.  

Flower Chick was busy this fall ... we travelled to several gardens in Illinois:  Decatur, Mahomet, plus revisited Springfield and Bloomington to add more can't miss horticultural spots. 

Follow along with us and plan your own trips … you’ll even find a guide of fun, local attractions to enjoy in the various towns and cities. Come back often as we keep adding new posts to our Illinois Gardens , Indiana Gardens, Iowa GardensMichigan Gardens & Wisconsin Gardens categories.

Visit Mabery Gelvin Botanical Gardens

In this “Visiting Midwest Gardens” feature, Flower Chick spotlights the beautiful Mabery Gelvin Botanical Gardens in Mahomet, Illinois. Join us to discover what makes this picturesque setting so special ...

In 2019, the entire pond and waterfall area underwent a complete renovation. The pond was completely drained and repaired along with removal of six million pounds of silt and debris. The results are spectacular!

You’ll Love These 4 Decatur Gardens

Join us as Flower Chick travels to central Illinois to spotlight four scenic Decatur gardens!  

Decatur is a fairly easy city to get around, so these four gardens can be easily explored in the course of a day. 

Decatur’s most prominent natural feature is Lake Decatur, a man made lake created in the early 1920’s. Two of Decatur’s best known parks, Nelson Park (north shore) and Scovill Park (south shore) are adjacent to the lake.

10 Reasons To Visit Washington Park Botanical Garden

As part of our “Visiting Midwest Gardens” series, we’re pleased to spotlight one of Springfield’s notable attractions. It’s the Washington Park Botanical Garden, located on the city’s west side.

On this most recent visit, we also explored the picturesque Lincoln Memorial Garden. You’ll find this expansive 63 acre site on the city’s far southeast side along the shores of Lake Springfield …

Visiting Bloomington IL Garden Sites

On our recent visit to the area, we stopped at the impressive Illinois State University Horticulture Center in Normal. The Center is located on Raab Road, north of the University Golf Course, and across the street from Heartland Community College.

The Center encompasses 18 acres, including several display gardens, a Children’s Garden, restored prairie area, a large vegetable plot, and more ... an amazing feast for the senses!

Did you know ... 8 Fun Facts About Alstroemerias:

We see alstroemeria in flower arrangements all the time. Their beautiful striped petals have a special way of lighting up a room!

They just glow in shades of orange, apricot, yellow, salmon, pink, rose, purple, white and red colors.  

Flower cuttings are also long-lived ... lasting over two weeks when in a vase.

  1. Alstroemeria is a symbol of wealth, prosperity and good fortune! 
  2. Alstroemeria is named after the Swedish botanist Klas von Alstroemer, who was a pupil of the great botanical classifier Linnaeus.
  3. The genus Alstroemeria consists of about 50 species.
  4. Peru, Brazil and Chile were the first growers of this lovely flower. 
  5. Alstroemeria flowers have no fragrance. (Great flower if you have any pollen allergies!)
  6. They stop producing flowers if they get too hot.
  7. Alstroemeria flowers bloom during late spring or early summer. They are perennials in zones 8 - 10 / annuals everywhere else.
  8. They are also known as Peruvian Lilies, Lily of the Inca, & Parrot Lily.
Containers of Vinca, Begonias, New Guinea Impatiens, and Geraniums by

Dear Gardening Friends, Thanks so much for reading!!  I hope you enjoyed the November newsletter and it inspired you to get some fall chores done in your own gardens plus prepare for the end of our growing season. 

This truly is a great time to reflect on what we liked about our gardens this year, and what you might like to change.  Jot down your thoughts, organize your plant labels for reference next spring, and review any photos you took. You'll be glad you did!

I'll be back in early December with more gardening fun and advice. Looking forward to visiting more botanical gardens in 2021 and sharing them with you.  Iowa and Michigan .... get ready we're headed your way!

In the meantime, I wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!

~ Laura a.k.a. Flower Chick

P.S. Click on the social icons below to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, & Pinterest!

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Is there a botanical garden, arboretum, or nature area you love and would like to see us feature in a future issue?  Please share below ...

Tell Us About Your Favorite Garden in Zone 5 / 6
Washington Park Springfield IL by
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3820 Capri Court Suite 306, Naperville
IL 60564 United States

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