Use pumpkins for Thanksgiving seasonal emphasis.

On Friday, Nov. 1, Halloween will be over and people can remove the scary decorations and use their pumpkins for attractive Thanksgiving seasonal emphasis. This is an ideal time for a fall cleanup. Because the growing season is winding down for the lawn and many plants, efforts made now will last for many weeks and months, except for picking up leaves, of course.

This is a good time to walk across the street and take a critical look at your home and lawn to see what your neighbors observe. This effort will either reassure you or cause you to determine that you can do better.

Some of the obvious activities include being sure that the grass is edged and that it is trimmed at fence lines, especially if the fence is a chain link fence. Although major pruning is not recommended at this time, dead limbs should be removed from bushes and trees. A few errant limbs sticking out of an otherwise reasonably groomed plant probably can be cut back with little or no damage to the plant. Scraggly annuals can be placed into the compost pile.

There are a number of choices for flowers than will add color to your fall and winter landscape. The list includes pansies, violas, dianthus, snap dragons, as well as ornamental cabbage and flowering kale. Pansies and violas planted in the fall will develop a good root system and be especially hardy in the spring. If you plan to plant any bulbs you should purchase them while the selection is good and store them in a cool place until you plant them. I have had good luck with hyacinth bulbs. They continue to come up every year.

I have also had good luck with flowering kale, sometimes getting it to last for several years. Three kale plants that were placed at the west entrance to the Santa Fe Depot Museum last fall lasted through the winter and summer and this fall each have multiple heads on them. One of the plants is shown in the photo above. The same is true of one at Main and Bell in front of the Travel Agency. That plant has grown to about two feet tall. In the next few days we will be planting several large specimens of white Kale in these beds.

An Oklahoma Gardening show a number of years ago suggested that if your kale or cabbage plant gets damaged by the winter weather, you can cut it back to about 1 inch above the ground. They also suggested that an X be cut into the top of the stem to help promote multiple heads. I have tried this on several occasions with pretty good success. It is worth a try if that situation arises. The plant in the illustration was not cut back. It just did its own thing!

Speaking of tree leaves, if you have a mower that will bag them, I recommend mowing the leaves and placing them as mulch around your shrubs and perennial plants, especially in areas of your landscape that aren’t places that need to look especially well groomed. I have a number of cannas at the back. I cut them down and lay the stems and leaves on the ground to be covered by the mower shredded leaves. This helps give some winter protection to the tubers and the decomposition of the leaves helps enrich the soil, I think.

This is the last gardening column for this growing season. I hope that next year’s growing season is as agreeable as this year’s has been. Best wishes for enjoyable holidays.