The way it should be: a garden center in early fall



Yes, there were mums and a few bales of hay. But there was also so much more. I attended a “Fall Garden Fest” at my favorite local nursery, Lockwood’s Greenhouses, not so much for the craft vendors and the hotdogs, as to see what stock they still had at this time.


They had everything. Tables and tables of sun or shade perennials, rows of shrubs and vines, even a surprisingly large selection of annuals, even hanging baskets. There were classes going on addressing grasses, hydrangeas, and—most interesting to me—how to winter over annuals and keep houseplants alive. It’s a good time for workshops; people aren’t as busy in their gardens and in just the right frame of mind to think about what they might want to change and add.


I can easily imagine wanting to freshen up my containers with some new annuals at this time, particularly those—calibrachoa, diascia, the little blue daisies you see above—that will withstand nighttime lows in the 40s. I don’t know that I would be buying hanging baskets, but it’s nice to know you can.


Too many nurseries around here clear the decks at this time and all you’ll find in the big boxes now are mums, bulbs, shrubs and trees. I stick by my story of not liking to plant past Oct. 1, but if anyone could convince me to take the risk, it would be these guys.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regular radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world, and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. This how my garden center looks.
    FULL with beautiful mums/asters the pumpkins and whole boat load of perennials begging to come home with you.
    Plant until the ground is frozen.
    Trust me I live in the Catskills and plant right into November.

    The TROLL

  2. Just went to my garden centre (used to be a nursery, but times change!) today and came home with the following: 1 flat of pansies mixed — half large ones, half violas, one lespedeza for an area which has just opened up for planting after the removal of an old messy and dying tree, and one Honorine Jobert Japanese anemone, for the big bed which I cleaned out yesterday and which seemed to be a little light on fall interest. Here in the mid-Atlantic, I plant until about mid-October, although we are very short on nice rains these days to help things along.

  3. Haven’t been to my local garden shop in a few weeks but noticed on my way out of town that they have hung the big banner proclaiming ” FALL IS FOR PLANTING “.
    I’m sure the shop is stuffed to the gills with California native plants, fall and winter vegetable starts, bulbs and all the other horticultural goodies that do so well here in a mediterranean climate.

    There were several big garden events this past weekend in the San Francisco Bay Area that displayed some absolutely beautiful plants for sale.
    I bought a half dozen Tillandsias at the annual fall Bromeliad sale and showed restraint at the first annual ‘SustainaMania’ in Sonoma.
    Lots of great new horticultural introductions germinating in the nurseries, especially a few new ornamental grasses from Zimbabwe and other southern hemisphere areas.
    – be on the lookout for a cool new very large growing Miscanthus junceus. * beautiful !

  4. ugh. i wish we had a garden center like this nearby. We’ve got mums, ornamental kale/cabbage, bulbs and if you’re lucky pansies. it’s depressing.

  5. I was there this weekend too and posted about it. We’re lucky to have a few great nurseries nearby. ANd we’re even luckier in that most nursery owners are genuinely interested in the community.

    One local nursery owner has a part-time job as the facilities manager of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House (being restored now). He LOVES his nursery and LOVES being part of the Martin House restoration. I think he’d do both for free.

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